As child and as a sports fan, the greatest moments in sports are the one you can get wrapped up in. We love the moments that seem bigger than the sport itself, moments when the impossible is accomplished, moments that define a sport for a generation. My generation of sports fans have been betrayed by those moments, because according to the record books none of them have happened.
The fall of Lance Armstrong has made waves in the sports world this week. I refrain from saying it ‘shocked’ the sports world because that would be false. During his now vacated 7 Tour De France wins, it seemed like every month here was another story about anti-doping agencies claiming to have evidence again Lance. Until now, every one of those claims has fallen short of tearing down Armstrong’s legacy, but the constant suspicion left knowledgeable fans with a looming fear that eventually someone would prove the truth.Now, after years have passed the truth comes out, and it does not surprise many observers.
When we talk about the steroid era, we often limit our scope to baseball. Baseball was the worst culprit but in the wake of the Lance Armstrong losing his Tour titles, it is clear that the steroid era effected all sports, as well as fans. As a fan who grew up in the steroid era, I admit it is one of several aspects that has made me as surly.
I remember checking the paper every day in the summer of 1998 to see if Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire had hit a home run. There was a tracker with their picture on the front of the sports page every day. When September drew closer and closer, that home run tracker got moved to the front page of every news paper in the country. The baseball world was alive with the excitement of a race that would define an era. I was a child, I thought I was watching two of the best players to ever hit a ball. As an adult, I now know the race was between two of the best cheaters of all time. Forgive me if I do not cry when they get left out of Cooperstown.
In 2000, was I was twelve and finally old enough to really follow the Olympic Games. Marion Jones emerged as the face of Team U.S.A. and took home five gold medals. Then the hero of the first Olympics I was old enough to truly comprehend, gave all of those medals back. Forgive me if I did not cry when Jones perjured herself.
I have never watched more than a minute of the Tour de France, but when Armstrong was racing I would check the times of every stage. Between the cancer story, his personality, and his humanly impossible display of endurance, he made one of the best sports stories I have witness. But now we get that all too familiar sight of watching a hero stripped of his glory and honor. Forgive me if I side with Cheryl Crow on this one.
Experts may say that the door is closing on the steroid era, tests are more sophisticated and the policing is better all around. To me, the steroid era will live on for a long time in the blackened hearts of a generation of sports fans. We are not only a generations of Randy Quaid yelling at the home team from the outfield bleachers, but a generation who must assume that winners cheat. Almost every transcendent sports story that should have fostered a life long love and awe for sport has ended with a positive test of a lie in front of congress. Rafeal Palmero is probably the last person to receive the benefit of the doubt from me.
Cheaters cheated us out of a loving trust for sport, and then lied about it until we now, when we are old enough to get mad about it. So I am sorry if I have no spot of forgiveness in my heart for amazing accomplishments achieved through illegal means. I am sorry I hold grudges. I am sorry may always be a surly sports fan. To my generation of sports lovers who feel scorned, you were cheated out of a healthy love for sport, and for that I am truly sorry.