No More Heroes: Whatever Happened to Just Plain Amazing?

Patrick CwiklinskiCorrespondent IAugust 8, 2009

ANDORRA - JULY 10:  Lance Armstrong of the USA and Team Astana in action during stage seven of the 2009 Tour de France from Barcelona to Andorra, on July 10, 2009 in Andorra.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

Lance Armstrong is a freak of nature.

Sorry, but what else do you call a man who was diagnosed with testicular cancer only to come back and not only compete professionally again but to make all anybody that ever played any kind of sport else look inferior by winning the Tour de France seven years in a row?

Athlete? Please.

Alas, Armstrong's utter domination of the Tour de France came to an end on July 7, 2009 when he placed third overall in the competition after not having entered it in three years.

But even with the coveted yellow jersey given to 26-year-old Alberto Contador of Spain, Armstrong showed that he could still compete and be a threat among the best of them, at 37-years-old nonetheless.

But just as crucial to Armstrong naysayers were his test results for use of performance-enhancing drugs and for a twenty-fourth time on March 17, 2009, the result was exactly the same.


And yet, there are those who believe and will continue to believe that Armstrong is a steroid-user and question not only his talent for racing bicycles but also his integrity as a human being.

There is no denying the fact that with everything that has happened with Armstrong's life from his cancer to working with controversial trainer Michele Ferrari, the odds have him pinned against the wall, begging for mercy.

But since when did sports become about settling for less than everything?

Is it naive to think, with all the advancements in modern medicine and science, that there still can be such thing as phenoms?

If it is in fact ridiculous to think so, then does that mean current sports icons like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are doomed to the same life of constant speculation and questioning?

If that's the case, you might as well just stop watching sports entirely.

Because isn't watching something incredible unfold in front of your very eyes what sports are all about?

Isn't history being made on the court, field, rink, track, etc. what sports are all about?

And perhaps most importantly, isn't defying the odds what sports are all about?

Of course there will always be those who abuse the system and use deception as a means of getting ahead, those people exist in every occupation and aspect of life. However, I refuse to sit here and let a few rotten apples spoil the bunch because I sincerely believe that there is still such thing as amazing.

A callow hope maybe, but nevertheless a necessary one in order to keep a passion alive.

So are sports destined to succumb the ongoing and past scandals of such athletes as Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco, Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, and Floyd Landis or are there enough people still out there who believe that not every exceptional athlete is using steroids?

In other words, are sports as we know it, damned?

If we allow the first thought that comes to our heads whenever an athlete cleans up at a tournament or destroys an opposing team in a game to be "he's definitely juicing" then that is a mindset that can't be altered with no amount reassurance.

And maybe it's a mindset that has been purposefully created because people love to see their heroes in vulnerable positions, stripped of their "powers" and brought back down to a humanly level.

But in these turbulent worldly times, couldn't we use a hero or two?