Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Church Of Lance Armstrong

Over the past couple of years, I have been sort of a silent surveyor of the emotions people have for Lance Armstrong. You need not go to Austin, Texas for this privilege. Its right here on the internet.

While Mr. Armstrong's Twitter account is bludgeoning with over 1.5 million followers, fierce wars are being waged in forums, blogs, news websites, sports commentaries, opinion columns and even video sites like Youtube and Metacafe. I wonder if the numbers of people and the sheer amount of time spent/wasted in these 'word battles' make any sense to a casual observer at all.

To give you a small perspective, take Yahoo Sports for example. On stories such as this one in YS, the number of comments from people who were interested in trading and exchanging the war of words on the topic of who was right and who was wrong is easily over 1900. Yes, you read right. One thousand nine hundred comments.

Now, if you go through such comments like you slowly flip the pages of a fat book, you can sort of arrive at a general trend of what people are thinking. This trend has been overwhelming many websites. People are all thinking in this direction. Its the number ONE herd attitude that has been behind the persona of Armstrong.

If you have read these comments or have experience in dealing with them, much of them hold one underlying thought process, which may be associated with a fallacy of the human mind. Its a cognitive bias and I talk a little about it towards the end of this post.

I won't call out anyone's specific comments, but lets see what that dominant herd attitude is...put in my own words, in a clean and decent fashion, without tears, yells, screaming or inappropriate language :
"I'm a huge fan of this athlete and you sir, are wrong if you aren't. If one is a survivor of a disease that has touched many, has achieved a great athletic feat in sports successive times and has managed to bring huge amounts of recognition for the sport and money along with it, that person is simply too great and should be automatically immune from criticism or have the privilege of being reserved from criticism in spite of shoddy behavior. This is because the sum of the parts are excessively good even though the individual constituent parts maybe bad, as you say. You are simply jealous of someone else's success."

Let's substitute the appropriate words for the general terms :

this athlete = Lance Armstrong
disease that has touched many = Cancer
recognition for the sport = recognition for cycling

This is the underlying idea. Simple.

Now I don't know if there are any readers of my blog out there who are neutral about this Armstrong phenomena or entirely against his attitude. But if you are, you know that the above sentences are what is being fed down your throat over and over again. It has been blended like juice in many forms and has different variations but the recipe is the same. It doesn't matter how much scholarly criticism you round up against the figure of Armstrong. It doesn't matter which objective sources of information you cite for your arguments. You will get the same juice from the 'followers' to drink.

This is the herd behavior because it also rubs on other people like a virus and soon, they all begin to think alike, even though they have not done their own research on who they are voicing for. Its like fashion. Today something new comes along, quick start believing in it. The blind fanaticism then runs like a pandemic.

Now it doesn't take much to see that this blind fanaticism over one man has obviously taken religious proportions. And there are consequences if you don't follow.

Many of Lance's detractors may have come across a certain stigma in the public. What is stigma? It is a state of being discredited or rejected in society. And here's the cause of that stigma : If you don't like Lance Armstrong in your circle of friends or any group of people, then its likely you're somehow viewed as not being religious. You don't fit in the herd. There must be something wrong in your head.

The religion here is that of supporting the fight against cancer through the faith and and a Herculean worship towards Lance Armstrong. It is a religion because its followers are bound by its ideals and to thinking, talking and having faith in the powers of a human demigod, a personality behind this disease, all the time. You are not to criticize, only support no matter what the circumstances.

To signify you are part of this loyal cult, you will engage in exclusive practices such as wearing yellow and black, an elastane wristband, donating lots of money to his charity, taking part in his mega charity rides, all this while carrying high the torch of the day the demigod survived cancer. You may even build a shrine for him, right in the neighborhood gym or at the local bike shop where you will adorn the walls with lots of pictures of his face or his sweaty body riding a bicycle.

While all this is going on, the demigod high the throne of the food chain being adored, loves the adoration so much that he becomes a full time narcissist, converting the adorers into money and further adoration. Its a perpetual cycle. If he can't do this himself, there are others on the royal bandwagon to help in the process. They then take a share of the pie too. $$$ !

Whether you consider this religion good or bad is up to you, but it is a cult considering the size of the adulation, the inflated fascination towards one individual and the sheer number of his followers.

If you're a detractor of the religion, you could be easily viewed not only as a detractor of the god, but as an atheist to this goal, this ideal, this philosophy of the fight against cancer. You don't recognize that he came back from the dead, you don't recognize that he is the savior, you don't recognize that he dominated in a sport after he resurrected, you don't recognize that he has the power to save people from death because of his fame and power. You may not even recognize what cancer is!

Now sit back and think. Which other great story has a parallel to the story of Lance. Maybe not literally, but still? Jesus Christ rose from the dead, 3 days after He was crucified. And then He promised He would return to save the world and provide salvation to those who believe. You're a Christian if you believe in Him and have a one to one relationship with Him, if you believe in what he can do for you. Billions believe in his power to heal and to work miracles in their life or anyone's life.

The name of Christ has been associated with one of the greatest victories in the history of human civilization. It has been associated with the greatest battle yet to come. It is one of the holiest of the holy names. Yet, lets not forget that even such a revered individual and prophet such as Jesus Christ has not been immune to criticism. The Holy Bible has been turned upside down and inspected with the greatest precision and critical eye. Detractors, such as Richard Dawkins, are celebrities today. Its a little ironic, but he happens to have his own big following.

If millions believe that Jesus has the power to forgive your sins, protect or cure you and fight evil, are you looked upon as a bad person if you fight Jesus and his followers? What gives you the monopoly to think that Jack is wrong and morally a bad person if he does not follow what you believe?

In other words, if Jesus Christ and the Bible can be debated in a sound manner as is happening in many educated circles today, why not Lance Armstrong?

Well. Uh-oh. It doesn't work that way. In fact, if you do the same against Lance Armstrong, you're a jerk, a dick, a piece of shit, someone who doesn't value life or success and is a hater for the fight against cancer.

Really? Never has been the word 'hater' so overused and out of context. Who talked anything about cancer here? We're talking about the man. We're talking about his personality. We're talking about his wrongdoings and serious misdemeanors that need a place for focused, intelligent discussion.

Nope. Not allowed. ACCESS DENIED. We will delete your comment. Our management will have you banned. He fought cancer, he's a cancer survivor. He won the Tour de France 7 times. Sorry, we believe in him and We're Holier Than Thou. You will hereby be an outcast.

Sadly, when celebrities and their egos attain larger than life proportions, so do the fallacies in the minds of their followers who engage in this hero worship, a cult phenomena. It is largely termed as cognitive bias. Confirmation bias is a type of cognitive bias. This refers to a form of selective thinking that focuses on evidence that supports what believers already believe while ignoring evidence that refutes their beliefs. You can see it in all comments on all websites in support of Lance Armstrong. This will be a wonderful terrain for those of you interested in social psychology experiments. You can see it happening from a distance. You can study it. But you'll be wasting your time if you enter the Church and question its belief system.

All Hell will then break loose. Run for your life.

I suspect that the Church of Lance Armstrong was founded on the day he rose from death and defeated cancer. It is very real, and it is here to stay for a very very long time. Yet, thousands of people all over the world fight the disease with little fanfare and emerge as survivors. Who really gives a fish about them?

* * *


B said...

I'm not ashamed to say I'm a Lance Armstrong fan, simply because he insipres me. But seriously though, I do not waste my time on forums and websites trying to battle an opponent who has a different point of view. I'm a working mother of two and have my own problems to take care of at home. Some folks have a lot of time in their hands and that's pretty certain from your link.

Anonymous said...

I relate the stigma you're talking about. The other day, I mentioned about not being a fan of LA to a friend (who is one) and he gave a look like he didn't know me before. I love cycling, so whats the problem?

Anonymous said...


Every civilization has it's arenas and its gladaitors which the media builds up as heros of the moment to sell more media. Lance is shrewd in that he is taking advantage of this media circus for the greater good for humanity, in trying to find a cures for cancer. Lance may never be a saint but at least he is moving beyond himself and his own ego. Now if the rest of us could do that as well.

Sprocket_Rocket said...

The Church of Lance Armstrong is dead on. Check this out, the hypnotized Mayor of Aspen proclaims today that there needs to be a special day on the calender set apart for Lance Armstrong. A Lance Armstrong day? Give me a break. This has to be the most inflated hero worship in America in decades. What is wrong with this country?

Anonymous said...

LA is not Jesus Christ. People don't believe in a man in the sky who doesn't do anything for you. What is more rational? Belief in the man in the sky or belief in a human who is doing something for cancer?

Timothy said...

Ron - I'm an American but have an Asian background. I dont have any religious beliefs but I do place some validity behind the Yin-Yang Taoist philosophy. The whole premise behind this is that every duality can be explained by Yin-Yang. Good, bad, cold, hot, high, low etc. And if you have seen the Yin-Yang symbol, each one has a tiny circular spot of opposite nature. Meaning Yin has a little bit of Yang and Yang has a little bit of Yin.

When I think of Lance Armstrong and try to find a reason why he behaves the way he does, I find that he's not too different from any of us. His life is a Yin, and when there's too much of it, the opposite takes over, the Yang and so there's a balance that makes who he is. Even though he maybe in his Yin right now, you can see that there's goodness in him. Every good thing has a bit of evil in it. See it this way and a lot of people won't complain about Alberto Contador or Lance Armstrong. Yin and Yang is an age old Chinese idea and there's much truth behind it.

Buttsy said...

Yes I am a Lance fan, but the one thing that scares me is the Power he has which can be used for good and evil.......The words he utters are gospel and people flock.....


There are many cashing in on the Lance phenomenon, eg: I am selling my personal "X" which is the same as used by Lance Armstrong as I used to work for Lance blah blah blah.

So Love Lance, love his acheivements, but the whole story ahd cash written all over it and many cash in.....

Love my Trek bike, love my Discovery channel gear (sorry Astana) and most of all I believe that cancer is a worthy cause...but those cashing in for less than ethical purpose and if Lance himself uses his power (and he has a lot more of it than we can understand), for evil - then it all gets a bit ugly - unfotunately.

Anonymous said...

So let me find something you like and call it "herd mentality".

Robert Anderson said...

Ron, great piece. When you compare Armstrong to anyone at the top of his sport in the weird environment we live in, I don't think he's so different from anyone else. Kobe Bryant? Michael Vick? Charles Barkley? Are any of them real role models?

I do think LA had an awesome performance in the Tour this year. The comeback is the hardest act in professional sports, and it's so often an eye-averting embarrassment. Not so this time.

Nonetheless, I can't call myself a "fan". Even though i used to live in Austin.

PS: Awesome graphic. I love the yellow-wristband-as-halo. Inspired.


Wilson said...

You are very bold to step out and talk about this issue. I've not seen anyone write something like this, yet a good portion of what you're saying are my feelings also. I guess it is taboo to question how much this modern day god makes in money. How much is going to his coffers? And is there an objective analysis anywhere of what his cancer charity has been able to do so far since the Second Rising? I find it a little absurd that people make up the fact in their minds that he can find a cure for cancer. Yet his cancer foundation has made no statement or promises about any such thing. Where do people get this from? I guess we're to shut our mouths if we're against Lance because he's out to find a cure. Watch out.

Anonymous said...

That picture is priceless. You should make it the one in your biography.

Anonymous said...

I just love the irony. A blog post, time spent using paintshop, etc etc - just to tell everybody else that they are wasting resources talking about Lance Armstrong. How much time did you spend on this article?

The real joke behind all of this is that the anti-Lance brigade are making LA larger than life. Accusing him of powers and influence that are absolutely incredible.

Every church needs a martyr, and you lot are doing a fine job of creating one!

Anonymous said...


Maybe this will help you

Ha ha, you are just as bad as the LA Zealots out there. Incapable of seeing both sides of an argument.

Anonymous said...


Actually I see LA as a bit of a flawed genius.

Anyway, the main point of my argument is that the more people who are anti-LA go on about him, the more they entrench him in the minds of his supporters. Thereby creating their own Frankenstein!

mithun said...

I'm from India and although we don't have a big cycling following here compared to Western countries, I'm a big fan of the Tour de France and like to watch both Contador and Armstrong.

It is certain that over the past few days and weeks, the supporters of both these superstars have been battling endlessly with vitriol but it must surely be only on the internet. The web gives you a luxury of hiding your face while expressing views, so you can trade as many barbs as you want, no matter how objectionable they are. The internet is responsible in a way for provoking people to lose their mannerisms. I question, will these same people act the way they do in real life, talking face to face with a person of opposite perspective? I don't think so, no?

All this press, media and trading of words because Contador said one thing : "He's a great rider and he did a great Tour. Another thing is on a personal level, where I have never admired him and never will."

In a way, your post really has a lot of meaning because this is what Contador said, but the leader Armstrong and his followers thought that it was grossly disrespectful to have a different point of view. Where is democracy?!

But see, if Armstrong said something against Bernard Hinault, it will be okay for Lance Armstrong supporters. It is a passable error. Belive me, that is the truth. Bias is the right word.

Wally said...

Ron, I really suspect that the fued between Armstrong and Contador will reflect what is happening among fans of soccer.

It will be an all-out racist war. And if there are Americans of all people engaging in his, seriously, they're all animals. Backward civilization.

Anonymous said...

yea just like all humans who have achived some form of greatness they expect those others to surround them or WORK for them to be great too. Artists, actors, sports stars, polititions, the list goes on. All greatness brings some form of social distortion. Inaddition the average person, by human nature looks to take down anyone who shows greatness.

Fixedmoto said...

Child of Lance, let us then partake in this offering, whereby we partake in the suffering before He resurrected from satanic cancer. Do with me, unto our Lord. Let us wear our Livestrong band, and chant his name, whilst we drink this cup of FRS energy drink and think silently of the date of 10//2. Ameeeen.

Anonymous said...

Lance's main interest isn' in curing cancer, it's about his ego and raking in the money. He's good for the sport because he has inspired a lot of folks to recognize it. But I suspect he's a vengeful and villainous person if crossed, and Alberto surely did cross him. So did Landis, in the sense that Landis was a terrific cyclist. I fully suspect Lance had something to do with Landis' being DQed from the MJ in the TdF.

Ron said...

Anon said at 12:12 pm : This phenomena of blind adulation and automatic rejection of any criticism of a public figure can be seen of many others including political figures:
Obama, Limbaugh, Reagan, Clinton (both of them), Bush (both of them, perhaps three or four of them), Blair, Thatcher, de Gaule, Gorbachev, Roosevelt, Eisenhauer and so many more. The same goes for athletes Tomba, Rose, Senna, Rossi, Hinault, Mercx, Maradona, Gretzky and a long list of others.

You forgot Adolf Hitler.

Agreed that there are many characters in our world today behind which people flock. Armstrong takes a special mention because he came back from his deathbed, didn't he, to dominate an event for 7 years. It is a miracle, so people are captivated by miracles which they can see. Then they flock behind and a fanbase is created. This fanbase around Armstrong went viral because everyone thought he was morally a great person simply because he had a cancer fund going for him. That bias multiplied support for Armstrong like flu.

But that does not give the person receiving this adulation, Armstrong, any reservation against criticism from those who don't believe in his specific actions. However, criticism has been really hard to fling at this individual in particular because directly, or indirectly, he uses cancer as a shield, like Captain America. Anyone that Armstrong hurts or embarrasses need justice. When you go to debate his actions, his following-this Lance Armstrong Church-comes back fighting at you verbally screaming you're attacking the value systems behind the fight against cancer. Thats a bogus treatment of a discussion.

It is supposed "leaders" like this that can amass tremendous support from their Church to hurt someone, bomb another country or make wrong decisions that could affect many people. Bush had it. We saw what he did to the world. Enough said.

Ron said...

mithun said at 3:06pm : It is certain that over the past few days and weeks, the supporters of both these superstars have been battling endlessly with vitriol but it must surely be only on the internet. The web gives you a luxury of hiding your face while expressing views, so you can trade as many barbs as you want, no matter how objectionable they are. The internet is responsible in a way for provoking people to lose their mannerisms. I question, will these same people act the way they do in real life, talking face to face with a person of opposite perspective? I don't think so, no?


Well said mithun. This should be put forward both the parties fighting over Armstrong. I certainly don't have an answer but it will be amusing to find out.

Wise1 said...

"A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker." - Buddha

Extend this to LA.

Tit4Tat said...

This is not the first time Armstrong became a jerk. He was a jerk all his life. Just think - if this cancer survivorship thing never showed up in the first place, would people seriously pass/flock to justify his rascal behavior all the time? Absolutely not. Its preposterous to think they would. Like I always say again and again, this man will not change unless writers like you slam him with intelligent arguments.

E.L. Skalsky said...

Another awesome article. See, there is a huge amount of partiality in this country towards LA simply because he's a cash cow, for the industry, for sports brands, for tv, for the sport. Everyone wants to get a piece of him and a little of that cash pie. If there were no money dealings behind all this, I doubt we would such inflated bottom kissing from many people. Cancer happens to a lot of people, but this guy is a genius to have taken it and monetized it. Someway down the line, he cleverly learnt to use it as a defense mechanism against his most piercing critics. Pity the little kids and teenagers who don't have a clue of the background of this nutcase but create an idol out of him to exemplify.

licenciadetransporte said...

Si señor, segundorodriguez, tu si que sabes de ciclismo, pero quizás tengas que explicarle a más de uno de los fans de Armstrong que es la Dauphine Liberé, que a lo mejor piensan que es un plato típico de Francia. Saludos.

Sam said...


It seems you took a pistol and hit right at the bullseye of the issue. Many people who have commented here have spoken of the issues behind the rabid following of one cycling personality.

People think and believe that Lance is to be made holy and given a free pass for criticism becuase he did SOMETHING great to the sport of cycling. They say without him, cycling would have been a marginal sport. It would become extinct. Not sure what these people have been watching, maybe the TV coverage in the US, but few people care in Europe and outside the US care about whether Lance is in the sport or not.

The next argument given in support of this 'demigod' (as you termed) is that we must all respect him and start being inspired because he came after 3.5 years of counch-potatoing to land a podium spot in the Tour. Don't even get me started on how he got the podium. But I frankly don't give a damn to this "great physical achievement" that everyone is flocking to witness. No physical triumph in sport gets anywhere if your character resembles that of a pig.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that the deification of Armstrong. I disagree this deification would not have taken place without Armstrong having had cancer. As I wrote yesterday (12:12) there is a long list of examples of others who have been similarly deified
(and similarly criticized) who have not had cancer (or similar life threatening experiences). The deifying of anyone is objectionable.

If it is irrational to dismiss Armstrong's faults as a result of him having won Le deTouR fRance seven times in a row, is it not similarly irrational to dismiss Armstrong's 7 wins as well as his podium finish this year as a result of his faults?


Anonymous said...


Should have completed the first sentance. I meant it to be:

While I agree that the deification of Armstrong is objectionable.

Yokota Fritz said...

I've been mulling some similar thoughts lately on the church of Lance. I'm not a Lance-o-phile but I do acknowledge his accomplishments as an athletes and even in the promotion of his cancer fight, but a lot of the discussion (both pro- and anti-) is so virulently off putting.

I've met Armstrong, he comes across as a regular guy to me. He's confident and knows what he's good at, but he's still just a guy.

Anonymous said...

Lance is touted as a super bike racer, and there's no doubt but that he has skill and talent. But compare him to the racers of Eddy Mercx's generation, and to Eddy himself. Eddy raced just about every European race there was and won them over and over, or placed very well up. Lance for a long time simply raced the Tour de France. He's a one act play.

I've often wondered how Lance would measure up against Eddy and some of the other winners of a previous generation in a stage race without radios and combat maneuver-like control from following cars.

Jenny said...

I almost puked when I heard that Lancelot the great posted a response on twitter. It would be okay if it was anyone else, but this two-faced schmuck out of all people? Please...

Wicked Wired Witch said...

I wrote this for another site but I think it might fit here;

I know many people like Armstrong. How? Because I stand up for my self. I don't come across as hard, thereby inviting these vultures in for what they assume in their ego to be easy pickings, the resulting melee is always quite hilarious and they always try to get revenge, always without revealing themselves but never really able to cover up, the same scenario being played out during(hidden) and post(revealed) tour and when you really understand what lenghts Armstrong will go to to stop his sworn enemy from stealing his success, remember that everything Armstrong supposedly stands for is based on an original lie which has to be reinforced constantly to hold back the flood of truth that threatens to overwhelm his Empiric lie, that being that he stands for good and honesty. Liggett is an apologist for him in every way that he can be, we must wonder why, I know why and I believe more will be revealed on that aspect of the tragedy(1) sooner rather than later.

(1)tragedy: n) a dramatic poem representing an important event or series of events in the life of some person or persons, in which the diction is elevated and the catastrophe melancholy; that kind of drama in which some fatal or mournful event is the main theme; a fatal or mournful event; any event in which human lives are sacrificed; an even causing great suffering or stress.

When I, as I sometimes do, to get a better grip on a word, checked the dictionary Anglais(Bloombury reference Dictionary) for this word I had no idea that it would describe the TdeF so accurately, it's astoundingly accurate.It's tragic.

Marrock said...

So long as all the money raised winds up going where the donors intended, that's great, but as far as the one-ball wonder himself... it's just a great big steaming pile of meh.

Smudge said...

W.r.t the above comment from Marrock, I would like to add that if you don't like the sick jerk, you dont have to give to his Foundation (if giving to LS reminds you of him, duh). There are plenty of others around, they're doing plenty of good work also. Thankfully, Livestrong does not run a one-man monopoly show. I'd kill myself than see that happen.

Anonymous said...

Who's Lance Armstrong? Was he really dead?

Tit4Tat said...

Velonews fellow John Wilcockson is also a member of this exclusive club/cult. Having written a book with an inflated title, he thinks he's gained some big importance, pity now that he has firmly attached his lips to Lance's bottom. His Tweets are very intersting. Most flattering to LA ofcourse. He's somehow assumed the role of LA's sidekick I suppose...implying that Contador does not have the right to make rash comments to jerkstrong or he won't get the peloton's sympathy. Ha! That's the most ridiculous thing I have heard in a while.

Chris Valva said...

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that there is no law of physics that tells you that you can treat someone poorly because you have a few trophies sitting in your cupboard at home.

Smudge said...

What is interesting to see is how Lance has basically closed himself to any sort of scrutinizing media but is using Twitter and his own websites to broadcast what HE WANTS to show. This I think is a way of brainwashing the people who watch HIS SHOW into thinking "wow, this is a great person, look at his lifestyle,look at his money, look at what he's doing for people, I better FOLLOW him WOW..."

Another fallacy for you, since you brought up the issue of fallacies :)

Take care.

GKK said...

There's one more sad thing about this cult. It occurs when people escape it. When these trusting people are finally convinced that their hero is nothing of the sort, they decide that every other cyclist must also be bad. For these people there's no gray area - if Lance took drugs every cyclist took drugs - and therefore Lance is kind of resurrected because he sinned no more than the others.

Anonymous said...

Humorous and literate piece thanks for the analysis and wit! It seems to be a phenomena among humans to canonise exceptional people despite evidence of their obvious failings outside their "area of talent" In LA's case send astana cars to airport while AC tries to get to the start of TT......or split field and put teammate in gutter to gain 40 secs (Tom Boonens observations)[no I in team :) just the rude finger]

I guess the final irony is look how many comments including mine.

Anonymous said...

If Lance didn't have an ego, he wouldn't have done any of this, he just found the cause to hitch his ego to.

If Lance was worthy of adoration, where is his wife? Where is his family? And where are the personal appearance fees he got for race starts this year in the name of furthering the cancer cause in this comeback of his?

Lance is a user for personal gain, when the Aids Ride returned more to charity than Livestrong did, people rebelled and set up rival rides seeking to get more of the money raised into the hands of the charities it was raised for.

Anonymous said...

What Would Lance Do? LOL

K said...

ah the church of tearing down achievements is in permanent session. It's so true, we nash our teeth in glee at the opportunity to tear another down for daring to achieve what we can't. how sad

Anonymous said...

So what about the other hundreds of athletes out there lying about doping? When are you going to tear them down?

The simple fact is, it's up to the cycling organization to test for doping. End of story.

Has Lance tested positive? No. And his back samples don't count (and I shouldn't have to explain to you nitwits why).

With hundreds and thousands of dollars at stake, you can't blame people for doping. Because some idiot is always going to dope. If one person dopes, EVERYBODY has to dope. The blame rests on the failure of the detection methods.

Most of you don't even know what "doping" is.

And the way you talk, you sound like you think Lance Armstrong has no skill on the bike and won strictly because of dope. FAIL.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the comments of the Armstrong fanboys are silly and shallow. To me, they are not worth the bother to respond. I can excuse them somewhat because the average Armstrong fan has little knowledge of professional cycling and what little they do have is filtered through the hagiograpy of Versus and a media that is equally ignorant.

However I find the "haters" much more pathetic. Wherever you go, whether it's a forum on Cyclingnews, or Velonews, or even a blog like this, the tone of the "anti-Armstrong" comments is always the same--that of a junior high school girl upset that she is not part of the "popular" group.

It goes way beyond dislike of Armstrong's unrelenting PR efforts and questionable comments/actions; it even goes beyond the histrionic allegations of his alleged doping. It is more like the neurotic whining of someone who still can't get over the fact that the cheerleaders back in high school preferred the football players.

What I find frustrating is that, even people I respect in the media are absolutely clueless and so any interview with Armstrong (example: his recent appearance with Jon Stewart) never goes beyond banal platitudes. And those in the "cycling media" (Walsh, Kimmage, et al), the ones who could ask some tough, insightful questions, are so caught up in gossip, conspiracy, or their own personal "crusades" that they are virtually incoherent.