Professional Athletes? Just Another Name For Reality-Show Entertainers
More doping allegations against famous athletes -- this time about a big-name cyclist, Lance Armstrong, and other top cycling stars.
Professional cycling is where we first heard about doping in recent years. Then came athletes in track and field, football, baseball, NASCAR, and lately golf, with the likes of Tiger Woods alleged to have taken illegal products.
But on Thursday the news turned back to cycling.
None other than 2006 Tour de France champion, Floyd Landis, stripped of that title, has leveled the claims -- the same Landis who for the last four years refuted allegations he took drugs, spending over $2 million in legal and other fees, as well as penning a book, "Positively False."
What do viewers feel about this? Weariness and perhaps resignation.
Michael Wilbon of ESPN's "PTI" and the Washington Post said, in reference to recent allegations from a Canadian drug doctor, that he is tired of all of this and believes viewers and fans are as well. He says viewers may just want to watch their sports no matter what.
Wilbon may have a point. Drug allegations -- and admittances -- have actually done little to harm TV sports.
For sure, big athletes coming and going have resulted in sharp viewership changes. The retirement of Lance Armstrong, and his return three years later, showed some decreases and then gains in TV viewers. Late last year Minnesota Vikings' Brett Favre played against his old Green Bay team and in the playoffs, helping to deliver some of the highest-rated games of the year. Tiger Woods' return after a long absence lifted early-round ratings on ESPN's "Masters" coverage.
Performance-enhancing drugs are illegal for sports and other uses. But has this affected the viewership of baseball or other sports? There is no evidence there. Now, I'm like Wilbon and other fans. I don't care.
If we are to now to believe Landis -- that virtually all bike racers dope -- perhaps we need to take a radical view of all of this. Maybe we need to let them dope. That's right. With drugs properly administered by doctors, and with riders signing off on the dangers of such use. And make the whole deal public.
What about the kids and aspiring athletes? Explain it all, and label who has taken drugs and who hasn't.
Maybe our sports athletes aren't the exact heroes we think. Maybe they are just reality-show entertainers, where real-life dangers -- medically induced and otherwise -- can happen. All this wouldn't just level the playing field among athletes, but among athletes and their fans.