Monday, July 03, 2006

Does this mean Hushovd will win?

The satellite TV is working better today so I've been watching the Tour. The Tour isn't really all that exciting at this point. I'm more enjoying the sight of bicycles on television. All this doping controversy along with that one guy who won like seven times or something has got me thinking though.

I think that the prevalence of the "who wants it more" attitude has made doping inevitable. The person who wants it more is obviously the one who cheats. Of course the race isn't really about who wants it more. It is about who is the best cyclist. I'd bet that the guy in second wants to win as much as (or more than) the guy in first. However, the person who wants it more might be willing to do something a little underhanded to get the win. I guess that's pretty obvious, but at the top levels everyone want to win so much that cheating is an unsurprising result.

I'm glad that I don't care about winning that much. I think that's why I go in for the endurance events. The race is as much against myself as it is against anyone else. Especially in the point-to-point races or extreme conditions races it is just a challenge to finish. When I signed up for the Arrowhead race all I wanted to do was finish. I was really pleased with my result, but mostly I'm glad I finished. In a way I'm glad that I didn't manage to finish Trans-Iowa because that makes finishing the others more meaningful. I'm not testing myself if I succeed every time. What's the point of cheating when the only one who cares is you and you'll be happy just making it to the finish line.

Another phenomena that I've noticed is that of the comeback from injury and eventual triumph. Think of LeMond after his shotgun wound, or diver Greg Lougainis after hitting his head on the board in the Olympics, not to mention that one guy with cancer. I can think of other examples from people I know. The formula seems to be: be close to the top of your game, get hurt, recover and gain sympathy, come back and win.

It's possible that it's just a fluke, that for every miraculous recovery there are dozens of normal wins, or maybe it's just that at the top of any sport you're almost guaranteed to get hurt at some time (okay, this doesn't work for LeMond or Armstrong, but it might apply to many others who suffer from sport related injury, think of mogul skiers and knee surgeries). It seems to apply in other walks of life too. Almost die climbing a mountain, become successful in business. Recover from alcoholism and become president.

Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger...right? I don't think so. I've seen too many contrary examples. I think people just like a good story. In any case please don't push me down the stairs and think you're doing me a favor.

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