Tufts voted to rescind the honorary degree given to Lance Armstrong.(Photo: Presse Sports-US PRESSWIRE Presse Sports-US PRESSWIRE)
Christine Brennan, USA TODAY Sports
What will we remember when we think of sports in 2012? London or Penn
State? LeBron or Lance? Pablo Sandoval or Melky Cabrera? Luck and RGIII
or Bountygate and concussions?
Who doesn't want to remember the
former? That's all the good stuff: the fun and games of the London
Olympics, the uplifting performances of the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals
and the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, the inspiring play of
the rookie quarterbacks this NFL season.
But there's little
chance that will be our takeaway from 2012. Sports used to be one of our
great escapes from the real world. Now, sports are much more of a
reflection of our society. Often, that's not good news. Hence: Lance,
Penn State, Cabrera and concussions.
This hasn't happened
overnight. It has been occurring for some time, actually, with the
advent of much more serious journalism in sports, with the rise of the
Steroid Era and our interest in finding out who is cheating and who is
not, with all the money in sports, which naturally brings with it more
attention, and with the proliferation of social media in sports, in
which nothing stays private very long.
so it's inevitable that we will linger far longer on the disheartening
downfall of Lance Armstrong. On the devastating criminal behavior of
Jerry Sandusky and his long-time enabler Joe Paterno. On the steroid
cheaters who have ruined the record book and the good name of baseball.
On the vitally important health issues that have come out of the NFL
this season, from the overall concerns about concussions to the suicide
of Junior Seau to the late-season tragedies in Kansas City and Dallas.
How can we not dwell on these things?
notorious people and startling issues transcended the sports pages in
2012. They weren't just big sports stories. They were big news stories,
often on the front page or leading the network news.
years from now, when students and historians are looking back on our
sports era, they won't be focusing on how LeBron James and the Miami
Heat finally won the NBA title. Knowing what they know in the future,
they will be looking back on what our leagues and universities knew and
did or did not do about concussions and other health issues.
that athletes will still be cheating in some form in 2112, they likely
will be intrigued by what they will view as the infancy of the Steroid
Era in sports. Imagine that. We're probably only just beginning the long
march of sports into the netherworld of drugs and other ways of
doctoring the human body for better performance.
And do you think they'll know the name Lance Armstrong?
How could they not?
is 2012's anti-sportsman of the year, hands down. He lied, cheated,
bullied and deceived his way to seven Tour de France titles and millions
of dollars from those who believed his story was pure and true. It
wasn't. Not even close.
The titles are all gone now. Who knows
where the money will be in 5-10 years. He has had to abandon his
Livestrong Foundation in disgrace. His sports crimes are worse than Ben
Johnson's, worse than Marion Jones', worse than Mark McGwire's. That's
because he had long ago transcended sports and become an icon to the
cancer community. So his deception is far greater because he had set
himself up to be something far more than a superb athlete. He had
marketed himself as a superb person too.
Some scoffed at that notion before 2012, but this was the year we found out for sure:
It just wasn't so.