14 January 2013

Who Cares if Lance Armstrong Confesses?

The Atlantic Sports Roundtable on Armstrong's upcoming Oprah appearance

The Atlantic online

Lance Armstrong is about to explain himself. Apologize, too. Well, maybe. In this week's Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we ask: Will the disgraced cyclist's Oprah interview be like the beating of a dead horse — or the final defeat of Jaws?

Patrick Hruby: ... you know what I'd like to hear from Armstrong? Honesty. I'd like to hear him say that he isn't truly sorry—that he's only truly sorry he got caught—because no one who truly regretted everything contained in USADA's voluminous report (and everything else that didn't make it) would have done all those things for so long in such a systemic, calculating, ruthless fashion. Nor would they have tweeted this. I'd like to hear him lambaste society's irrational, hypocritical, unhelpful moral panic regarding performance-enhancing drugs in sports compared to performance-enhancing drugs in every other walk of life. I'd like to hear him puncture the myth that great performers are—by the very dint of their hard-charging competitive success—great guys, heroes even, and that if it took a man winning bicycle races to galvanize us about cancer, then maybe smuggled bags of EPO aren't society's biggest problem.

I guess I'd like a unicorn to win the next Tour de France, too ...

Jake Simpson: ... What, exactly, is the societal benefit of beating the 10-times-dead horse that is this godforsaken story? If this were all in furtherance of a real discussion about PEDs in sports, what "performance-enhancing" really means, and how to reform the system to make it a little bit less like West Baltimore in The Wire, that would be a discussion worth having. But that's not what's happening here. The vast majority of the Armstrong coverage is a combination of celebrity rubbernecking (watching and dissecting every moment of a famous person's fall from grace) and the gleeful vengeance of fans and media members still outraged by It's Not About The Bike, the people who believe Lance perpetrated a fraud on the public and is getting his just comeuppance. Lather that sentiment in "we need the truth" sanctimony all you want, but it's what is truly at the bottom of this increasingly sleazy Armstrong saga ...

Hampton Stevens: ... Guys, you have got to be kidding me. Would you watch all of Jaws but change channels just before Brody blows up the shark? Would you sit through 99 percent of Mel Gibson's Hamlet then skip the finale swordfight? This is the good part, kids. This is where the bad guy gets it ... For what Lance should say to Oprah, ask one of his PR consultants. I'd say beg for mercy, but Patrick's idea of flipping the script and giving the county good tongue-lashing about idol worship might work. Frankly, what he says doesn't matter much to me. Lance will be compelling TV because it's always interesting to watch people lie. But the real fun will be Oprah's disapproval. She crushed the author James Frey, humiliating him in front of all humanity, and all he did was make up some of his memoir A Million Little Pieces.

Armstrong's crimes were far worse. Here's hoping Winfrey makes him pay dearly. The people he hurt need it. Here's hoping that she jams that air tank firmly into the shark's mouth and shoots true. Here's hoping that she cuffs him to the sinking houseboat, Max Cady-style, and he goes down speaking in tongues. This isn't revenge, guys. It's not even justice. But it's our chance to finally see Hans Gruber fall backwards off a building. Of course I'm going to watch ...

Read the full article at The Atlantic online