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October 23rd, 2014

The Armstrong Lie **

New on DVD

 

I do not watch ESPN Sports Center anymore.

 

Years ago, Sports Center was wonderfully simple: it showed highlights of the previous day’s sporting events, nothing more.

 

Sports Center has slowly evolved into more of a regular news program – with investigative reporting and a focus on scandal rather than sports.

 

Florida State QB Jameis Winston is the most exciting player in college football right now. However, if you watch Sports Center, you think of Winston primarily as the suspect in a campus sexual assault investigation.

 

I am not defending Jameis Winston. I am saying, however, that his personal life is absolutely none of my business. Or ESPN’s.

 

The story that convinced me to stop watching Sports Center was the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

 

I always think it is wrong when ESPN attacks athletes. But, to be fair, some of them did ask to be public figures. I mean, if you sign up to play 3rd baseman for the New York Yankees, party with Madonna, and eat popcorn at the Super Bowl with Cameron Diaz, you clearly want to be a celebrity.

 

However, Lance Armstrong didn’t choose to be celebrity. He chose to ride a bicycle. In France. It seems to me that that is a recipe for anonymity. Most people had never heard of the Tour de France until Lance Armstong – an American cancer survivor – won the race several years in a row.

 

Though he didn’t ask to be a public figure, he took advantage of his fame and founded the LiveStrong Foundation: a charity that has raised $500 million for cancer survivors and their families.

 

In case you didn’t already know, Lance Armstrong was doping the entire time. The overlong and unenlightening documentary “The Armstrong Lie” shows how much performance enhancing Armstrong did and how he systematically lied about it.

 

And you know what? I don’t care at all.

 

I know this is not a popular opinion, but please hear me out. When I learn that an athlete has been outed as a doper, I feel bad for him. Society has encouraged him to perform at the highest level possible, to be relentlessly competitive, and to win at all costs. Society has rewarded him handsomely and made him feel like a hero for being such a competitive winner.

 

Then, all of a sudden, society turns against him and calls him a monster and a cheater and a fraud just because he used a substance that is currently banned.

 

One little injection turns a hero into a villain. It doesn’t make any sense to me. Who made these rules? Probably the producers at Sports Center. Because they like nothing more than to put a man on a pedestal and then wait until he slips so they can tear him down and drag his name through the mud.

 

In conclusion: when I think of Lance Armstrong, I think of a good athlete and a great philanthropist. When ESPN sees Lance Armstrong, they see a villain who is fair game to be attacked. I like sports and positivity. They like scandal and character assassination.

 

And that’s why I don’t watch Sports Center anymore.

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