Saturday, January 19, 2013

Don't Cry For Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong is shoving his name back in the news. The disgraced cyclist admitted his cheating in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. He also doesn’t feel he was cheating because “everyone else was doing it.” Way to show contrition for lying Lance.

Armstrong is a man who misled an entire country and cheated his way to the top of a sport very few people in this country care about. Those who do follow cycling likely do so because they believed in the feel-good story of a man who recovered from testicular cancer to win multiple Tour-de-France titles.

I see a different story when I look at this man. I see a man who lied for years and preached to the world about how clean he was despite knowing the truth. He successfully sued a London newspaper for daring to write articles about his cheating ways. Hopefully they are able to recoup some or all of that money in the wake of this admission.

How many millions of dollars did he earn in endorsements? How many millions did he earn in prize money and performance bonuses for winning six straight times in the Tour-de-France? His entire career was built on a lie, one he vehemently denied.

Some of us work hard in our careers. We don’t lie, we don’t cheat. We do things the right way. Every raise, promotion and accolade I’ve earned, I’ve done so the right way. This man cheated his way to titles and tons of money and endorsements.

I know Armstrong still has his supporters, the ones who like to point out all the good he did with his money as if he’s suddenly a beacon of morality. It’s real easy to give away other people’s money. By cheating to win he stole that prize money from other more deserving candidates. Maybe they would have been more generous with their money had they been the ones who won it?

Armstrong is just the latest in a long line of “role models” who are setting a horrible example to the youth of today. Look at the story coming out of Notre Dame this week about Manti Te’o and his fake girlfriend. Look at all the steroid users from the 90’s and 2000’s in major league baseball. What kind of example have they set?

Personally I am sick of the idolization of sports athletes in this country. Maybe if they weren’t so grossly overpaid the incentive to cheat wouldn’t be as prevalent?

The real heroes in this country aren’t a bunch of egotistical arrogant athletes playing a game; the real heroes are firefighters, policemen, teachers, and other people who try to make a difference in our society. Isn’t it funny how I don’t hear stories of doping and cheating in those professions?

Personally I hope Armstrong loses every last cent of falsely earned money. It’s one thing to lie; it’s another thing to complete fraud against people. Make no mistake that’s all Armstrong is, a fraud. He got millions of dollars fraudulently by “winning” titles he didn’t deserve. He won lawsuit money by lying in court against that newspaper. He’s nothing but a con artist.

Like all other criminals, I hope he gets what’s coming to him.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

What's In a Name?

It’s always fun to play the “What if” game in sports. What if Neil O’Donnell hadn’t thrown two crucial interceptions in Super Bowl XXX? What if Jerry Meals had called Julio Lugo out instead of safe? What if the Penguins hadn’t drafted Mario Lemieux? What if the Pirates had drafted Matt Wieters instead of Daniel Moskos?

Here’s one for the arena football fans in town. What if the Pittsburgh Power had named themselves the Pittsburgh River Wizards instead?

You might think it’s a silly name I pulled out of thin air, but the truth is that rumors of this name had surfaced along with team colors and a logo. A lot of fans immediately hated the name and weren’t exactly fond of the logo either. I wasn’t exactly a fan of the name, but the bottom line was that I was just happy to have a team in Pittsburgh, regardless of what they were called.

The few people I’ve talked to with the team have never admitted it was an official name that was being considered, but perhaps they saw the feedback and realized a name change was a necessity. A little smoke and mirrors perhaps to keep fans from knowing the real name until it was time for the big reveal.

What exactly is a River Wizard anyways? Most wizards should be able to conjure up water out of thin air, so I don’t really see the need for one to live by the river unless he happens to like fishing. Sadly I think a River Wizard is one that never graduated from Hogwart’s to become a full-fledged magician. Kind of like some of the players in the AFL who want to graduate to the NFL.

So would things have been different with a name change? Perhaps the franchise would have a little more magic in them? Instead of Joystick, maybe star wide receiver Mike Washington would be known as Magic Mike.

Maybe the team would have learned how to pull a quarterback out of a hat during their first two seasons? I still see images of Bernard Morris making victories vanish before our eyes with four turnovers against Arizona and then Cleveland to cost the Power a chance at the division crown in 2011.

Let’s not forget one of the biggest disappearing acts of all for this team, running back Josh Rue. He quickly became a fan favorite at the Consol Energy Center, drawing out the Rue birds, but by the end of the 2011 season he wasn't even on the roster. Talk about disappointing.

Any way you slice it, a River Wizard hardly inspires fear in the opposition. It certainly doesn’t fit the blue-collar image of this city. In that regards the Power picked a better name.

People always ask what’s in a name and why they are important. Fans associate with a nickname and it’s my belief the name River Wizards would have doomed this team from the start.

I guess when you get down to it, the name of the game is winning, and the Power need more of that in their third season or they might up and vanish altogether.

If you would have had a say in naming the team, would you have gone with River Wizards, Power, or something else? Post your suggestions in the comments below.