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Lance Armstrong - too successful ?
ifihadahif Posted: Fri Aug 6 21:53:10 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Lance Armstrong and Individual Glory
Friday, August 06, 2004
by Terry Eastland


Witnessing the reaction in Old Europe to champion cyclist Lance Armstrong's record-breaking sixth Tour de France win, I was reminded of a telling scene in Chariots of Fire, the Oscar-winning movie about the 1924 British Olympic team.

In it, two Cambridge University dons confront Jewish student and runner Harold Abrahams (played by Ben Cross) and accuse him of adopting a professional attitude—of striving for individual success at the expense of esprit de corps. Abrahams's restrained but angry reply includes this memorable riposte: "You yearn for victory just as I do, but achieved with the apparent effortlessness of gods."

My seat in Old Europe is in Munich, from which I watched not only Armstrong's extraordinary, awe-inspiring performance but the tangible reluctance among European observers to acknowledge it as such. After he achieved his record-breaking title, a BBC reporter went out of his way to rank the American biker below several past Tour greats. During the three-week race, rumors of drug-taking were revived by the French and others, though the five-time champion and cancer survivor had never failed a drug test.

On the German TV station I watched, Armstrong's early wins in the mountains were attributed to his team members' assistance, his dominance in the two individual time trials was played down, his rivals—no matter how visibly inferior—were lavished with praise and attention while the real star was virtually ignored. When Armstrong snatched a last-second victory from a German biker in a stage he did not need to win, a stunned German commentator struggled for words to describe the Texan. "He's so . . . ambitious," he said finally, echoing the Cambridge dons' distaste.


There is another thread that connects these two stories. Harold Abrahams's critics were classic anti-Semites of the upper-class British variety, who regarded the Jewish runner's single-mindedness and intensity as the hallmarks of a "tradesman"—in other words, a Jew. Lance Armstrong's European critics—even if they are not overtly anti-American—resent even more than his dominance of what has traditionally been a European sport his very American style of success. He trains too hard for them, plans too carefully, strives too relentlessly. He does not wear his talent lightly or camouflage his intense desire to win. Success at any price, they imply, just as Abrahams' critics accused him of abandoning the ideals of an amateur in "a headlong pursuit of individual glory."

On one point, at least, Armstrong's European critics are right. Striving for success, like following one's dream, is a quintessentially American trait. Taken together, the two have made millionaire moguls of uneducated immigrants, powerful politicians of low-born nobodies, world-famous inventors of basement tinkerers, and great sports champions of disadvantaged youths like Armstrong. The natural home for ambitious dreamers, whatever their nationality, remains the United States.

In Europe, as British author J.K. Rowling experienced when her Harry Potter books began to earn serious money, too much success, like too much popularity, is held to be suspect. Here a high degree of competitiveness is regarded as distasteful or unseemly. Ambition shouldn't be too raw or the will to win too strong. Americans, on the other hand, see competitiveness not as a dirty word but as a natural accompaniment to achievement. We see achievement itself as something to be celebrated, especially if it is hard-won. Yet our foreign critics are mistaken when they imply that American achievers seek to win at all costs.

The truth is more that ambitious Americans are driven—truly driven—not only to do their best but to prove their worth time and again. "I believe in the pursuit of excellence and I'll carry the future with me," Harold Abrahams announces to his elitist critics in Chariots of Fire. The future he refers to may have begun 80 years ago, but he could have been speaking for Lance Armstrong today.

Emily Berns, a former editor in New York, has been living in Munich since 1990.




 
novemberrain Posted: Fri Aug 6 22:08:40 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  And every year the French go, "He is on chemicals." And I'm going, "It's chemotherapy, you little toad suckers." "Okay, he has one testicle, he's aerodynamic. Everyone, cut off your balls. You'll be quicker. Do it. Don't be afraid."

- Robin Williams, talking about Lance Armstrong. Live on Broadway (2002)


 
FN Posted: Sat Aug 7 06:27:12 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  "Old Europe"

Get a life you fucking nazi's.

You think ambition is solely american?


 
FN Posted: Sat Aug 7 06:37:07 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  And yeah, team spirit is pretty common over here in sports, must be a culture thing.

I don't know how much you know about cycling, but you need your team members to keep you out of the wind to save your strenghts, and yeah, that does matter; so no, he didn't do it completely on his own.

Besides, you think he's the first one to win several tours as well? He has 1 more than the previous record (which was the record of a Belgian guy if I'm not mistaking, couldn't care any less actually), which is nice for him and which he will probably get some respect for in some circles, but that's not the point.

And you think he's the only one who's suspected of using drugs?

Everybody gets checked, and everybody gets doubted, because the sport is saturated with it.

Perhaps it's also good to know that in a recent interview I read with Kim Geevaerts, a belgian athlete (100 en 200 metres sprint if I'm not mistaking) she talked about how american athletes got a "less thorough, I'll keep it at that *sigh*" investigation by the, surprise, american people who used to be in control of it.


PS: Get a fucking life you nazi's.

Really hif, what the fuck.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Sat Aug 7 07:42:58 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  The drugs aren't really the point of the article.
It's about the cultural differences between Europe and America.



 
ifihadahif Posted: Sat Aug 7 07:45:18 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>"Old Europe"
>
>Get a life you fucking nazi's.
>
>You think ambition is solely american?
>
Why on earth are you offended by the term "Old Europe"?



 
FN Posted: Sat Aug 7 08:09:59 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>between Europe and America.

The fact that we don't elect rednecks or what?


 
FN Posted: Sat Aug 7 08:10:20 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>Why on earth are you offended by the term "Old Europe"?

Don't give me that crap.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Sat Aug 7 08:12:47 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>ifihadahif said:
>>Why on earth are you offended by the term "Old Europe"?
>
>Don't give me that crap.
>
???????
wtf


 
ifihadahif Posted: Sat Aug 7 08:13:17 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>ifihadahif said:
>>between Europe and America.
>
>The fact that we don't elect rednecks or what?
>
Are you saying there are no cultural differences ?


 
FN Posted: Sat Aug 7 08:42:52 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>Are you saying there are no cultural differences ?

I'm glad there are


 
FN Posted: Sat Aug 7 08:46:47 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>wtf

I know what you and that pompous ass who wrote it mean by "old europe".


 
FN Posted: Sat Aug 7 08:47:31 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>Are you saying there are no cultural differences ?

Are you saying that there is no ambition in Europe, or even a milligram less?


 
ifihadahif Posted: Sat Aug 7 09:39:17 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>ifihadahif said:
>>wtf
>
>I know what you and that pompous ass who wrote it mean by "old europe".
>
So now you have the ability to read minds ?
Old Europe is a necessary term now that there is a "New Europe" due to the fall of the Soviets.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Sat Aug 7 09:40:56 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>ifihadahif said:
>>Are you saying there are no cultural differences ?
>
>Are you saying that there is no ambition in Europe, or even a milligram less?
>
Are you saying that the article is inaccurate as it is written ?



 
mat_j Posted: Sat Aug 7 11:52:43 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I find that offensive Hif, it implies this blanket place called "old Europe" cant stand American success because you are oh so ambitious and we just sit here jealously stewing in our juices

This sentence below for example, the opinion of the author, has no apparent source representing those it talks about but freely represents them anyway, so it can hardly been seen as evidence against us lazy and bitter Europeans-


"Lance Armstrong's European critics—even if they are not overtly anti-American—resent even more than his dominance of what has traditionally been a European sport his very American style of success. He trains too hard for them, plans too carefully, strives too relentlessly. He does not wear his talent lightly or camouflage his intense desire to win. Success at any price, they imply, just as Abrahams' critics accused him of abandoning the ideals of an amateur in "a headlong pursuit of individual glory.""

Oh yeah and the only thing it actually quotes is from a FILM not real life


This part is complete horsecrap-

"On one point, at least, Armstrong's European critics are right. Striving for success, like following one's dream, is a quintessentially American trait. Taken together, the two have made millionaire moguls of uneducated immigrants, powerful politicians of low-born nobodies, world-famous inventors of basement tinkerers, and great sports champions of disadvantaged youths like Armstrong. The natural home for ambitious dreamers, whatever their nationality, remains the United States."

"Success, like following ones dream is a quintessental American trait."!!!!!!

I mean for fuck sake do i even need to begin to say how mind numbly stupid this phrase is? It implies that Europeans have never had ambition, which is rather rich coming from a country which is there due to European ambition. The following dreams part too, i was unaware that your country was the only one that follows its dreams!!!!
It seems to rely entirely on stereotypes of Europeans and glosses over the various problems presented to minorities in sports and every other field in America in the last centruy alone.

I for one am a big Lance Armstrong fan and let me tell you categorically there is one hell of a lot of respect for the man in the UK, and he is highly regarded in the BBC. True fans of the Tour De france here are almost without exceptions fans of Armstrong, you can't help but respect a man who has accomplished so much and in the face of the most challenging adversity. I personally am not a big fan of the sport, but mr Armstrong is the only person in it whom i can name and tell you anything about, I am however a fan of formula one motor racing. In this particular field i share the view of British national institution and respected commentator Murray Walker that Michael Schumacher, a German, is the greatest driver in the world and his italian team Ferrarri are the best car designers.Pretty progressive don't you think, for a someone who has had no dream or ambition and is furious at the way Americans just stretegise and plan things without any consideration of how anyone else can win!!!!!!!!!


The British people are jealous of success but only so much as anyone else would be, and I'm sure in my heart of hearts when someone beats American by a hairs bredth you would go out dancing on the streets to congratulate them on their victory, wouldn't you? Then again if you actually believe this crap, i'm starting to wonder if your not a plant by some Liberal organisation to completely put anyone off the idea of even harbouring convservative opinions of any kind!




 
ifihadahif Posted: Sat Aug 7 14:56:16 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Sorry guys, I would never purposely try to offend you, mind you I didn't write this artice, I just cut and pasted it.
It is my opinion that the author was taking a swing at France and Germany.
A well placed one at that.
As for your opinion on how Americans would treat a European victor, all you have to do is ask Lennox Lewis how he gets treated over here. In the world of athletics, the "world's best" is always treated like royalty over here wherever they come from.
Justine Henin Hardine (sp?) and Kim Clijsters have defeated both of the Williams sisters on the tennis courts many times in the last year and they get just as much applause as any American over here.
Americans tend to worship athletic superstars (too much in my opinion), and it doesn't matter where they come from. The NBA is now filled with European superstar millionaires, The NHL has more foreigners than Americans, major league baseball is now getting it's share of Japanese players while it has been filled with latinos for many years. Just wait til American football starts to catch on in Europe !


 
mat_j Posted: Sat Aug 7 15:41:48 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Aii come on a lotta things were said which nobody necesarily meant, but you gotta remember you mess with me or Chris your messin' with the whole family ;-)


 
Mesh Posted: Sun Aug 8 03:15:48 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Sorry, but you're all wrong.


Lance Armstrong is an alien.


 
FN Posted: Sun Aug 8 11:29:25 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>Are you saying that the article is inaccurate as it is written ?

Yes.


 
Puck Posted: Mon Aug 9 02:29:33 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  mat_j said:
>"Success, like following ones dream is a quintessental American trait."!!!!!!
>
>I mean for fuck sake do i even need to begin to say how mind numbly stupid this phrase is?

I'm from the US and I'm don't think I could be less ambitious. Does than mean that I'm not "American"?


 
keats Posted: Thu Aug 19 02:27:24 2004 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Anybody read "Atlas Shrugged" lately?


 



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