November 06, 2006

A High Stakes, Leisurely 26.2 Mile Run

The most remarkable thing that happened in the world of sports this weekend was not the Bears losing to the lowly Dolphins, and it was not the Atlanta Hawks winning both of their games to start out 2-1 (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Nor was it the unbelievable last-minute finish of the Redskins-Cowboys game, or the fact that somewhere in Fairfax, VA, yours truly and three friends set out to play a game of 2-on-2 to 100 points only to have the game end at 96-92 when one of the players went to the ground in a heap after his calf cramped for the fifth consecutive play and he was unable to continue.

No, the most remarkable thing that happened in the world of sports this weekend was that Lance Armstrong rolled out of bed in New York City and ran a marathon in under three hours.

Initially, you might not think that this is particularly noteworthy. And considering where everyone else finished, it was far from mind-blowing – Lance was just 869th overall.

But if you think about it for a minute, there is something incredible about what Lance Armstrong did on Sunday. Because in some strange way, it proves his unique determination as effectively as anything else he’s accomplished.

And yes, I’m fully aware of how he’s already come back from certain death in the face of his bout with testicular cancer, and I know all too well the stories about his improbable triumphs in the Tour de France. I’ve heard those stories a hundred times.

And that’s just it – this story of Lance running the marathon is not one we’ve heard before. But in a quiet and refreshing way it tells the same tale, and if anything, it casts the man in a different light. Because this he didn’t do for money (okay, he probably got paid by Nike, but you get the point), and he didn’t do this to prove he was the best in the world or to piss off the French, to name a few of his motivating factors in repeatedly riding the Tour.

This he did at least in large part for the love of competition. And he didn’t have to run it so well – he could have easily clocked in at 3:30 or 4 hours and made some jokes about how he’s apparently been enjoying retirement too much so he’s gotten out of shape. And everyone would have laughed, because it’s Lance, and everyone (the French excluded) loves Lance.

But instead, he ran that race as hard as he possibly could. And in doing so, he raised the idea that regardless of where you stand on any and all doping allegations surrounding him, perhaps in some weird way it doesn’t really matter whether he cheated once or twice or uncountable times or never.

Because ultimately what we’ve always wanted (and gotten) from Lance is to be inspired. But the possibility of doping has made us wonder at least in part if we can trust what we’ve seen.

Yesterday, at least some of that changed. Through this relatively quiet yet transcendent performance, Lance Armstrong didn’t lay to rest any and all doubts about his past, but he did give us all reason to believe, once again, in the incredible power of determination.


  • And now that we’ve maxed out the sappy-ness quotient for the week, we’ll move on to something a tad bit more debaucherous: Ron Artest’s album dropped on Tuesday, and from the sound of things, this disc is rather remarkable. I would have loved to have gotten the jump on it and written a review and may still do so, but for now SLAMOnline has beaten me to it. By the way, after reading this, you will definitely be tempted to run out to the record store almost immediately. Thus far I’ve resisted. (And as a side note, my spell check told me that “debaucherous” is not a word. This saddens me greatly, but not to the point that I won’t continue to throw around said word at every opportunity.)
  • From the look of it, I’m going to have to start watching more Pistons games on NBA League Pass, if for no other reason than to watch the impending combustion of Rasheed Wallace under the League’s new “Zero Tolerance” policy. This clearly isn’t working particularly well for ‘Sheed. Instead of complying with the referee's efforts to crack down, he’s taking verbal dumps all over David Stern’s proverbial brand new Oriental rug. Consider this recent quote from Rasheed:

I know they’re going to have to do something about this crazy zero-tolerance law. That’s retarded. In my mind, it’s kind of like a slave and master or father and son. You’ve got your little son and [you say] don’t say nothing back to me – and to me, that’s totally wrong. It ain’t like that in any other sport.”
Truth be told, I can completely understand ‘Sheed’s frustration, and though the slave reference might have been a bit extreme, his point is understandable.

But here’s the overarching question that comes to mind after reading this quote: Is it okay to use the word “retarded”? In my daily travels I encounter many people who find the use of this word rather irresistible but at the same time they feel kind of guilty about doing so. And the reason they feel guilty is that there are a lot of people out there who will give you a stern lecture if they catch you saying the “R” word.

It’s almost gotten to the point where it’s approaching the upper tier of taboo words along with…(Sorry but I can’t write them here or some of you will get angry at me)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but like Rasheed I’m fed up with being censored. From here on out, and until further notice, I’m planning on following #36’s lead and adopting a “Zero Tolerance” policy of my own against anyone who has a problem with me and anyone else dropping “R” bombs on the regular. If you’ve got a problem, take it up with David Stern and tell him to fine me. Just know that my attorneys and I plan to appeal any and all sanctions.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love of competition? Love of self and spotlight more like.

3:31 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger jmals said...

My favorite commentator comment during marathon Broadcast came from the lips of Al Trautwig (a total douche). Setting the scene: The first wheelchair rider to cross the finish line was indeed the guy that Al's color man and booth-mate had predicted.

Al says, "Bob, you sure did a great job of handicapping these wheelchair racers."

4:02 PM, November 06, 2006  
Blogger Frank G Yak said...

Fantastic post and i don't disagree with you. I think it's a great story and I do love lance. But the man did have an entire army training/running with him, doesn't have to work at all and didn't have to go through any of chaos that come with the Marathon.

My bet is that under those conditions even the OCC could bust 3 hours --- (okay, maybe 4 hours)

Also -- JMALS that is fantastic

4:39 PM, November 06, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, I'd like to say that I love Rasheed Wallace and agree with whtever he says righ or wrong. Second, I see absolutly nothing wrong with using the so called "R" word, but, seeing that these days everyone has to be "politically correct" its considered mean when using the term and refering to someone that is mentally handicapped which Rasheed was not. That being said when I first read his comment I understood that he was simply saying that the RETARDED Zero Tolerance Policy is backward,impeding and delaying progress as far as the game is comcerned. By using this word I have a full understanding f the opinion he was trying to express. For those who are offended with his word usage I suggest they find more important things to be concerned about.

6:17 AM, December 16, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People should look up the word retarded and see in what context its being used before they get bent out of shape!

6:23 AM, December 16, 2006  

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