Thursday, July 07, 2005
The War Within Lance
LANCE'S WAR. I've watched and listened to author Daniel Coyle interviews a few times now; I also read the book review in Sports Illustrated. Though I have not yet purchased or read Coyle's recently-published Lance Armstrong's War, I've read numerous other books by or about him. Coyle's comments seem to be fairly consistent with my impression as a reader and outside observer over the years.
ENIGMA WITH A CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER. Even with my considerable admiration for Armstrong, "enigma" seems to be a good word to describe Lance. He is a fierce competitor with a chip on his shoulder...maybe that is one edge he possesses in this field of intense competition. It shapes the nature of his approach to the tour. He doesn't sound like a nice guy to try to get close to, but at the same time he is obviously gracious and generous in other ways.
FATHER FIGURES. Armstrong grew up essentially fatherless. The father figures he had were lacking, at best. One husband of his mother was a fundamentalist Christian who made the family go to church and was strict...then committed adultery. I suppose that effectively innoculated him against the possibility of considering authentic Christian faith in his foreseeable future. I imagine the father thing figures significantly as essential fuel for Lance's continuing "war."
TOUGH MINDSET. Lance's mind and heart seem to be fully focused on himself and on the only things that he sees have served him well through it all (so far): ruthless self-determination, unquestioning loyalty of select friends, tight control over all variables, nothing but the best resources, intimidation of his rivals, the power of suffering, self-doubt, anger, and (last but not least) public adulation for his efforts.
LOOKING FORWARD. These behaviors and priorities may have served him well to this point. But as of July 24, win or lose the Tour, Armstrong's post-TdF life begins. In my eyes and the public's eyes, he will be an admired cycling champion for life, considered one of the greatest athletes of his generation. But I sense that the behaviors and priorities that he thinks have garnered him 6 (maybe 7) Tour de France championships will not likely continue to serve him well in life post-TdF. Maybe cancer isn't the biggest battle he will face in life.