Thursday, May 01, 2008

Lance Armstrong: Friend or Foe?

Normally, strong sub 3 hour marathoners who finish 496th at the Boston Marathon command my awe and respect. There is no debate. I can be downright sycophantic (can I award +3 for this Razz?) in fact. If they had speed yielding teets, I’d consider suckling them to become faster. I don’t know them other than a number next to their name in the newspaper. However, I can’t run that fast. They can. Fawning praise (with hints of jealousy) thrown their way.

But what do we make of this Lance Armstrong phenomenon?

You may have heard of him. He had a bit part in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. And he was also a cyclist of some note.

There is much debate around the Nitmos house on this topic. I tend to appreciate the man’s amazing physical talent and dedication in the world of cycling and subsequent transformation into an upper echelon marathoner. Mrs. Nitmos tends to focus on his personal relationship issues and sees more of a spotlight stealing glory hound.*

Leaving the personal stuff aside, the Great Lance Debate usually breaks one of two ways:

(1) He’s bringing much needed attention and excitement to the sport.
(2) He’s stealing the spotlight from the elite runners.

Mrs. Nitmos, standing on the corner of Hereford and Boylston, wasn’t pleased to see a ring of security and a camera truck directly around Mr. Armstrong as he made his way to the finish of the Boston Marathon. After the race, she reminded me that the only other folks who had a personal camera truck were the male and female leaders of the race. The other 493 people ahead of Lance (and 21,000+ behind) had no camera to record their moment of glory. Or, presumably, a posse of undercover ninjas with collapsible Kerrigan knee whackers shadowing their footsteps prepared to swat away overzealous fans.

I get that. Who doesn’t recognize the public’s general fascination with celebrity? It goes overboard. While one side of our face reads celebrity tabloids and can recite the details of Kate Hudson’s recent shopping spree (I can’t believe she spent that much on a sweatsuit after all!!), the other side is busy condemning the media and celebrities with an emphatic WHO CARES!? The third side might be eating ice cream. I’m three dimensional. The analogy works.

Plus, I’m pretty sure I also deserve a camera truck. My mom has always told me I’m special. Mrs. Nitmos has always said I’m a certain kind of special as well. You don’t obtain this level of averageness and sustain it for this many continuous years without a fair amount of ability. You should know that when I get raises at work, they usually meet – or even slightly exceed – the average cost of living increase. Par is a positive score in golf, right?

I don’t believe we’ve reached hyper obsession over Lance running marathons though. It’s mentioned. It’s on TV…newspapers…Runner’s World. Race highlights typically show the winner followed quickly by any celebrities in attendance. I guess I’m alright with that. Like it or not, running – while a popular hobby for many – is not really an exciting sport for those who don’t directly participate. It’s okay to show Lance puffing on in to the finish several hundred people behind the winner. It brings interest and excitement to the sport.

More people know when marathons are being run now. They stop to watch Lance run and, just maybe, catch a glimpse of the real elite runners. Call it: Awareness through Adjacency. If the media wants to dry hump Lance’s leg and circle him with cameras while Robert Cheruiyot quietly slips out the back door, so be it. I still believe more people are being exposed to the sport. More people are becoming interested. And more people may be inspired to participate.

This may not be how we would prefer it. But it’s better than nothing.



If I could quibble though, I would have preferred that Lance did not run through and break the tape during his finish. I’m pretty sure the other 495 people in front of him might have already broken the tape. I doubt all of them did the limbo under it.

By the way, if anyone knows someone with speed yielding teets, it sure would save me a lot of work.





* Plus, I think Mrs. Nitmos is just angry that the photo supply of Lance running with a shirtless Matthew McConaughey has dried up.

17 comments:

Xenia said...

I agree with both you and Mrs. Nitmos. I'm fine with Lance getting media attention for marathoning, but the tape-breaking was totally lame. At least he looked a little embarrassed while doing it though. Or at least he did in the video I saw.

Marcy said...

Ooooo I'm going to have to come back to see what Nic says ROFLMAO! You know how he *hearts* Lance :P

I'm a celeb whore so I don't care but that whole tape breaking thing? Cheese sauce all over it.

And yes, you certainly are "special" if that's what they call it these days ;-)

RazZDoodle said...

Hey, if Lance inspires some people to get their fat ass off the couch and run around the block, then so be it. I've got no problem with that.

+5 points is good. I might have gone higher. You need to explain the system. Give some parameters (+3).

Special as in "#1 in my book" kind of special or as in "Corky from Life Goes On" kind of special?

sRod said...

Yeah, I'm not a fan of Lance's. I don't think running needs the star power. I feel like the glitz and glamor make the sport less appealing. They take away the humility involved in running (and God is there tons of that). Running is the sport of the masses, so I say boo to celebs.

That's my two cents.

Topher said...

On the one hand, I agree with RazZ. Anyone who inspires others to get a move on, that's fine. But I'm sick.sick.sick of Lance-mania. Sure, he's a phenominal athlete. So are all the others like yourself who finished. The tape-at-the-finish was completely stupid.

L*I*S*A said...

He's just nice to look at. Period. The tape thing is tacky, though. Not a nice touch at all.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

That tape is just hilarious and he should be embarrassed. I have to say, give him his due, he is fast and quite an athlete. He really can't do a lot about the media hype and if he needs security, maybe he needs security. At least he's honest and says he likes to eat and drink too much to become an elite. I don't know what went on in the personal life and I hate to speculate what really happened there. But, regardless, we all have our skeletons and our mistakes. Hopefully that doesn't mean anything about our running. (otherwise I'm more screwed than I thought) The boy ran a 2:50. Now if he'd just take off his shirt.

thebets said...

Mrs. Nitmos is cool.

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

Let's not forget what his running is really all about. His foundation has raised well over $65 million for cancer survivorship. I don't know, but I think that entitles him in my mind to some perks the rest of us don't get.

Anonymous said...

Here is my problem with Lance, I could care less that he is a celebrity, what I have the issue with is that there was such a big deal in Boston about him.There was no media truck filming my husband who after working a full time job and raising two kids finds the time to train and complete his marathon. Lance can pretty much run when he wants. There wasn't a media truck on the man pushing his wheelchair bound son while running a marathon. All I am saying is lets put this into perspective and focus on the "real" runners instead. Mrs Nitmos...

Scott said...

Yeah, I didn't understand the whole tape breaking thing. That didn't make any sense that he'd have his own tape to run through...

When I finish training runs around my neighborhood I have my kids hold up a tape across the road so I can practice crossing the finish. Since, in marathons I finish only about an hour and 1/2 behind the winners I figure I'm right there with the chance to grab the tape!

MizFit said...

I TOTALLY ECHO MRS.N (and IM not yer better half!)

Im also not a runner but can entirely see how this mightcould work my nerves (I like to compare it to my Kabbalah beiefs and then Madonna jumping on the Jewish Bandwagon (which plays only klezmer music))

Eric Gervase said...

I don't mind Lance bringing attention to the sport. I think he's an incredible athlete. I don't have a crush on him or anything (that I know of).

The tape breaking is lame. He's should tell them to can that.

nwgdc said...

i'm torn on lance too. i was hoping you would mention the "breaking the tape" picture. i found that ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS.

Lily on the Road said...

Sorry I got lost at the Matthew McConaughey pictures and thought I'd already commented LMAO....

I'm with Nancy, give the guy the credit he deserves and if his media machine deem he is to cut the ribbon or cake, so be it.......

The Laminator said...

I'm torn. On the one hand, I hate Lance-mania. Breaking the tape is absolutely ridiculous. On the other hand, I'd hope the fact that he runs will bring our sport more into the national consciousness (leftover rant from my weekend post...) So like I said, I'm torn.

Laura said...

So... I totally missed Lance while watching Boston. I'm not sure how I did that. I did duck away from the race for a little bit to get alcohol, so maybe that's why? But I was there (at mile 24) for the winners and for anyone who finished after about 3:15. Was I so drunk I didn't see him?