I wasn't going to write about this, but the topic simply wouldn't leave my brain. Try as I might, I can't shake the foolish feeling I have.
Many of you don't know, but I'm a big honkin' fan of cycling. (It's especially amazing since my own bike hasn't touched ground from the garage rafters in two years.) We watch the Tour de France as a family during the long hot days of July. There's something magical about watching men half my size defy the odds and ride a bicycle all around Europe.
I don't have any special team affiliation, of course I love Lance Armstrong, and my favorite cyclist is George Hincapie for reasons I cannot explain. But I always cheer for the Americans. (The Aussies, too, but especially the Americans.)
That said, four years ago an American named Floyd Landis won the Tour in great style. He was up near the top of the leaders for much of the race, but had a devastating lost in one of the stages. All hope seemed gone for the American. Then, the very next day after his massive time loss, Floyd stormed back with more than a vengeance. It was a miracle in the mountains. He road like a man possessed. And, because of those heroics, he won the Tour.
A few months later, the powers that be stripped him of his title citing doping issues. (Cycling has unforgivingly harsh rules against doping of any kind. Most cold meds aren't even allowed. Testing is random, frequent, and often motivated by loathing for a competitor. At least, that's what Lance Armstrong sometimes believes.) Floyd denied, denied, denied. And many of us believed him, fervently defending him when the discussion came up.
Now, four years later, Floyd Landis came out last week and admitted to doping.
The good news is, the discussion didn't come up much, so at least no one is calling me and mocking me. The bad news is, we had length conversations with the children about this, and now we look like fools.
The worse news is...we feel like fools as well.
It shouldn't surprise me. Celebrities generally don't belong on the pedestals we build for them. Sports figures cheat all the time. Actors are nothing like the characters they play. Rock stars don't love us as much as they say they do. (Well, except for Rick Springfield...of course!) It should come as zero surprise that Floyd Landis cheated. I'm an adult, I should be immune to this sort of thing.
The problem is, no one likes hearing their heroes are jerks. No one likes being lied to.
I've written here many times about how fiction is more logical than real life because characters in fiction, at least the heroes, aren't allowed a lot of leeway when it comes to character flaws. Oh, you can have the wounded, mysterious hero (We love him, don't we?) but in the end, he darn well better be honorable.
So I'm a romantic. I defended a hero I thought was honorable. Turns out I was wrong. I didn't do anything wrong. I shouldn't feel lousy about this.
But, like I said, I can't shake the feeling of being a fool.
Thanks for listening!