Counterpoint – Lance should not come back

September 12, 2008

“Son, your ego is writing checks that your body can’t cash” Top Gun (1986)

I originally was thinking of starting this post with a “Jim, you ignorant….” but I would be dating myself.  Yesterday, I gave you some of the thoughts rattling around as to why I think Lance Armstrong coming back is a good idea.  Now I’ll tell you why I think it is a bad one.

1) You had the perfect exit. What a story, kick cancer then comeback and take the next seven Tours de France.  Set the record, then one more to put it out of reach, then ride off into the sunset.  In those westerns, the cowboy riding off into the sunset did not turn around at the horizon and say “I think I’ll stay around for a while longer.”  No, they left the town thankful and the women wondering what could have been.  That’s where we are, thanks for saving the sport and yes, you could have won eight, nine, or even a tenth Tour. But you rode out on top.

2) You are about to turn 37. The oldest winner of the Tour was 1922 winner, Firmin Lambot at 36.

3) You are putting your legacy in jeopardy. Two words, Michael Jordan.  The greatest basketball player ever retired on top then returned.  When he came back, he was not the athlete he once was.  Sports history is littered with athletes who hung on too long.  It is sad when a great athlete has to leave by the back door, not the front.

4) There is little upside. If you comeback and win number eight, do you look end up looking greedy?  If you don’t win, do you open the door to speculation that you were never as good as we once thought you were.  Will you give your critics ammunition that sullies your legacy?  I’ll stay away from the potential to draw more attention to your cancer fight because I don’t know the answer if this will increase awareness greater than any other activity you could take up such as running for office.

5) You are about to turn 37.  Of the five time winners, the oldest was Bernard Hinault just short of 31. Of the three time winners, the oldest was Louis Bobet who was 30 in 1955.  You may have defied gravity in the Alps and Pyranees.  Can you defy time?