The Lance Factor – Rebuttal

If there’s ever a sure-fire way to get lots of web hits and a good mix of comments, all you ever have to do is post something about Lance Armstrong.

The cool thing about blogs, Twitter, or heck – plain old conversation – is that folks are allowed to have an opinion and share it.  I received a fair share of comments on this post (as comments on this blog, over at TriCrowd, on Twitter, and via email) – some of it fair, some less so.  I LOVE getting comments….whether they agree with me or not.  So if you posted or sent me a comment, thank you!

And while I don’t usually want to write a rebuttal or come-back, this is one time where I want to defend myself because from the general tenor of some of the feedback that I’ve received, it looks like a lot of folks didn’t really get the point I was trying to make.  So, I’m going to try to be more clear about it here.

I don’t have an issue with Lance Armstrong.  I don’t have any problem with him racing triathlon again.  In fact, in my original post, I called him a “certifiable stud”.  I absolutely hope he has a great season (even though with the results he has had so far, that he’s had more than a “successful” season).  Would it be cool to see him do well in Kona?  Sure thing.

Nope.  My beef isn’t with Lance.  It’s with the triathlon media.

My take is that the media have built the guy into such a huge event and enormous persona that it almost seems that everything else about our sport (and it is our sport….as we all participate in triathlon….I’m not being exclusionary here) is seemingly rendered somehow of lower quality.  It’s like none of the fantastic athletes that have been in triathlon have ever really accomplished anything.

And that’s not true.  I think of the professionals that bust their tails every week.  I think of age groupers like me – and probably you, too – who have to balance life, work, kids, social engagements, etc.  We are what makes this sport special.  Not a seven-time Tour de France winner.  Not a huge marketing machine.

Triathlon shouldn’t be better because Lance Armstrong does triathlon.  Lance Armstrong should be a better person because he does triathlon.

But if you read the web, magazines, or online forums, it’s almost as if the media is trying to tell us that the sport is better because of him and his reentering triathlon.  And my opinion is that’s not the case.  I think that Lance brings almost too much notoriety to the sport.  He’s overshadowing.  He diverts significant attention from other deserving athletes.  The largeness of the Lance Armstrong machine seems to overpower everything else.    I think that in and of itself is a bad thing.

Hope this makes my points a little more clear.  Feel free to still disagree – and if you do, please comment!


3 thoughts on “The Lance Factor – Rebuttal

  1. I totally agree with you. That’s kinda what I was trying to say in my comment yesterday but I certainly don’t have your eloquence.

  2. Here is the thing. It seems like all the Tri media and message boards (ST mostly) are talking about Lance. But the fact of the matter is that we notice it because we are immersed in it. The non-endurance sports people really do not even know Lance is doing Triathons. It isn’t like it is being covered in the mainstream sports media all that much. He won FL70.3 and not even a blurp was mentioned on ESPN.

    Guess my point is the the Lance Factor really isn’t all that much of a factor. It just gives us triathletes and cyclists something to talk about and write about. Step outside our endurance sports bubble and no one gives a crap!

  3. This past weekend I was in Greenville for USA pro cycling championships. It was a great time watching amazing athletes. Although LA is retired from the sport he was constantly present in Greenville, whether in the form of Michelob Ultra ads or the Bontrager-Livestrong development. The reality is that watching Lance win 7 TdF’s got me hooked on the sport of cycling and has resulted in me spending a lot of money on related products. That money, in turn, allows team sponsorship which provides an opportunity for athletes that may otherwise not be professional cyclists. I’m sure I’m not the only one LA brought to the sport. Since triathlon isn’t covered in mainstream media, the industry-specific publications are doing everything they can to leverage LA’s involvement with the sport. After seeing what happened with cycling it seems like a good approach. At the end of the day, if his involvement in the sport brings more people into triathlon (along with their money) isn’t that good for the existing pros as well as all of us who just participate?

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