You can be disappointed in cycling, don’t get disillusioned

July 9, 2007

That’s the theme of a great article by ESPN’s Bonnie DeSimone. Ms. DeSimone outlined the disillusioned American press seems to be taking their ire out on this sport. While the French journalists continue to follow the sport after Festina. The German journalists with T-Mobile and Jan Ullrich. The British with David Millar, etc. To an extent, the American journalists are doing it with their popular sports as well. Why not cycling? As Ms. DeSimone points out:

Cycling is expendable for American writers. They could afford to bail when the fairy tales started to fall apart. They got ticked off when the likeable Tyler Hamilton was compromised; they felt burned when Landis’ monumental Stage 17 became the centerpiece of an arbitration hearing rather than a coffee table book; and they are turned off by the continuing questions and debate about Armstrong. They seem to be taking things personally.

It may also be easier to bail from cycling.  Given that most journalists came to cycling during the Lance era, there is not as deep an emotional bond as other sports may have.  In the early stages of any relationship, any slight may destroy something that could have blossomed into something special.  Ms. Desimone goes on to segregate the sport from some of the individuals. Sure, she knows she is being played by some riders who look her in the eye and weave a tale that she knows will eventually come out in the long run.

All areas of life have corruption and usually things need to reach a boiling point before a corner can be turned. Look at Enron and the financial markets. I’m sure other sports will eventually reach that same point.

Finally, Ms DeSimone provides sage advice to all of us:

We can write about teams with pockmarked histories or a remarkable surge in results. We shouldn’t declare riders guilty until proved innocent, but we’re entitled to rip them when they’re shown to be charlatans.

People cheat across the board. We don’t stop covering politics because candidates steal elections, we don’t stop covering corporations because executives embezzle, and we keep writing love stories even though people stray from their partners. We shouldn’t stop covering the Tour de France because some riders dope.