Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Master of His Domain

If I was making a postcard to send to Postscript, I think it would read:



But it's also where I get caught up on what's what and who's who in Hollywood. Needless to say, I was surprised to see Lance Armstrong's name romantically linked with...An Olsen Twin. It wasn't any character fault of Lance's that I couldn't believe the greatest cyclist of the 21st century would be all about a 21 year old child sitcom star (though it was a wtf moment).

I was surprised because cycling had finally cracked into the sports-celebrity underworld (with the help of Lance's admittingly bizarre behavior) and claimed a seat at the bar next to greats like Muhammud Ali, David Beckham, Andrew Agassi, and fellow cyclist, the great Italian sprinter Mario Cipollini. As far as the general public is concerned, Lance Armstrong is the face of cycling in the U.S. And the face of cycling is...making out at a nightclub with "Michelle?" Yes, I think a 'wtf' would be an appropriate reaction.

All that nonsense aside, that status as the face of ______ seems like a peak of sorts. Being King of the Castle, your name is like a bubble that travels from the depths of the ocean floor to the surface of the water. You can see everyone below you in the fiefdom of _______ but there is no one above you to say the same. You are The Man.

So for someone who has fought tooth and nail to reach the summit of this one particular mountain and can be considered master of his domain, rising from the depths of obscurity into the glaring light of cameras and papparazzi, I'm curious just what a day in the life of Lance Armstrong is like. I'm sure it is much different than those early days training alone on borrowed equipment and driving yourself to races.

Professional sports are a career path for many athletes. You know you can't be master of your domain forever, because all your stock is in your body and its ability to outrun, outscore, or cross a finish line before your competitors and, as everyone really knows, deep down inside, bodies age, get sick, and eventually stop working altogether.

Master's of their Domain receive ample compensation for their dedication to achieving and maintaining their status as #1 Man of _______.

Blaise Pascal wagered that faith could be cultivated through action. It was called Pascal's Wager because Pascal wagered that while someone might not have a theistic faith, "playing the part" of one who does can lead someone towards stronger belief. In other words, when you can't make it...fake it. Assuming this theory holds true, it suggests that playing holy makes holy; environment and moral behavior matter. In the world of athletes, this translates to the constant repition, the drills, the practice, the strategy for success.

Having lived and forged an identity (or at least having been the victim of a society that cast one on you like a fisherman's net on the sea) in this fiefdom for half your life, it must be a hard transition to step down into a world where you're not the Man of anything. You have a swollen bank account and continuing endorsements from Wheaties and Nike. But what do you do? You're just another guy with too much time and money to know what to do with it. Since you've retired, there have been more world champions, more records set...your name is already starting to depreciate in the minds of the general populice like a Cadillac being driven of the lot.

So what do you do? Well, I guess you do what my friend Michael suggests after going through a breakup: "Go crazy"...in a 'wtf' kind of way. Sharing martinis and swapping spit with a 21 year old former child star--seems as good a thing to do as any when you once had the cycling world as your oyster and are now living off a pension that reminds you of what you were...and what you have become.

PostSecret for the Day:



Listening to: Sufjan Stevens

1 comment:

Michelle's Spell said...

Rob,

This is a very thoughtful post. I've always thought it was incredibly difficult for athletes to make the transition into ordinary time after so many years on top of their game. I also am hopelessly addicted to tabloids -- I read them at the gym to kill the pain of working out.