Friday, September 21, 2007

The Sun Is Sinking Low

One of Simon and Garfunkel's lesser-known tunes, The Sun Is Burning is an earth-shattering little ditty. It has a lovely singsong melody that can just slip in one ear and out the other without a second thought. But if you actually pay attention and listen to the words, it is a devastating tale that will stop you in your tracks. The Floyd Landis case is kinda like that. For the ignorant masses, it was a buried story in evening newscasts. If it made an impression at all, it was probably, "is that thing still going on?" For those of us who have been following every detail every day for over a year, it was pretty much how Floyd summed it up - no big surprise, but still hurts like hell.

It's not that all hope is lost. Appeals are possible, other court action is possible. Floyd is young and healthy and strong and will find his way, in professional cycling or not. There are things not even the all-powerful bureaucracy can take away from him (or us). But there was that one hope, that possibility that hung out there in the mist, daring us to dream. The general public will never understand, he will never get that year back, or the endorsements, or the proper party, but…but…if the panel rules for him, that will be something. That will be big news. People will notice. They will reconsider. They will apologize for the ignorant and hurtful arrows they slung his way. He will be a person again, instead of a pundit's plaything. If…If…

But no, it was an afterthought of a story, and just reinforced all the inaccuracies. I was maintaining an even keel most of the afternoon, but I lost it watching PTI on ESPN. I generally enjoy those guys, and have respect for them. They have their silliness and zingers, but I've seen them treat a lot of sensational stories with restraint and sensitivity. And so it made it that much more upsetting to see them spout endless ignorant rants about Floyd and cycling in general. Saying neither he nor cycling deserved any time to be talked about, making Pound-ish comments about his testosterone, hoping he will now go away, even comparing him to O.J. Simpson of all things. I was furious and hurt and really wanted to throw something. Here's hoping John Eustice can corner them in the break room and straighten them out.

The editor in me wants to stop using the word ignorant in every paragraph, but it's such a pillar in this whole fiasco. It's what makes it so frustrating and heartbreaking. It's behind so many comments and actions, from sportscasters to people on the street to the highest officials in cycling. People on the street get a pass, we all can't know everything about everything, but if you don't know, keep your mouth shut. But reporters and, more importantly, officials - I will never understand how they can just blather on with such authority when they're not intimately familiar with the facts. If someone is truly versed in the facts, and has a genuine different opinion, I'm all ears. But I never seem to get that impression from those who get the microphones. I will say that several outfits did do a reasonable job with today's story, staying appropriately neutral and using phrases like "lost his appeal" rather than "did take drugs," acknowledging what the decision was (and was not).

It's such a cliché to put the loss in perspective - of course there are greater crises in the world, this just happens to be one we care a whole lot about. But it is worth considering. As injustices go, some bigger and badder ones were in the news this very day, take your pick. Life sucks all around, as Querns used to say.

And cycling goes on. Ironies abound in the Vuelta. As Oscar Pereiro deals with his new, ahem, situation, Denis Menchov is on his way to getting a "real" win to go along with his win-by-default a couple of years ago after Heras' doping troubles. One wonders - is he pissed that a big doping story is going to get in the way of this one too, or happy that the story isn't so big, so won't get in the way. Come to think of it, he better not be thinking that far ahead anyway, because CSC put on a show Thursday and will be hungry for more on Friday's tough stage. Yes, in case anyone noticed, the Vuelta got it in gear today. Christian Vande Velde and friends had a smashing day, with Carlos Sastre topping it off with the big attack. CVV is the man, doing that at the end of a long season, and hurting like a dog, HTFU indeed. Carlos, dear, same to you and all due respect, but you're really starting to overdo it on the bluffing thing.

Friday is Peace Day, if only. But I will wear my Funky Floyd T with pride, follow the Vuelta breathlessly, and hopefully get in a ride before the sun goes down. Hard to do these days, the sun actually is getting low up here, but I'll find a way - can't keep me off the bike. Right Floyd?


cat2bike said...

Great post, Julie! I love your writing, and it always makes me feel better. I DON'T even want to listen to mainstream media mangle Floyd again. I can't take it. And I don't need to hear it from co-workers either.


Anonymous said...

Bravo again Julie! Well written.

The ignorance IS amazing...

You also reminded me that I need to go take a look at the Vuelta, which has slipped from focus as I've been concentrating on everything else. thanks

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Julie. Thanks!

RipCurl said...

Sorry, Julie. That was me.

Anonymous said...

Definitely, don't get off the bike.