Monday, July 04, 2005

Tour de Lance

It's July, which means it's time for the Tour de France. Lance Armstrong has done a lot for himself as well as American cycling by wining the past six tours. When he began his reign in 1999, the only televised coverage available in the US was a 30 minute re-cap show each night on ESPN or ESPN2 around 10 or 11 pm. Now we get a live broadcast every morning on OLN which is then rebroadcast about three or four times over the course of the day. Still, the amount of time they devote to covering and praising Lance Armstrong is a bit ridiculous. I don't expect a lot of objectivity from sports journalists, but when Lance-buddy Bob Roll is sitting there wearing his live strong wristband practically declaring Lance the winner of the 2005 tour before it has even started, it's kind of annoying. Of course, were it not for Lance, there would be no OLN coverage, and Bob Roll wouldn't be on TV. It creates an interesting dynamic when the commercial viability of an entire sport rests on the shoulders of a single athlete. It will be interesting to see what happens next year after Lance has retired. There are a number of American riders who have the ability to contend for the Tour de France, but none of them have a story that is anywhere near as compelling to the media and general public as Lance. I don't think we'll go back to the the bad old days of miniscule coverage, but it seems like there will have to be a reduction somewhere. As long as Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin are along for the call, I won't have any complaints.


MDS said...

I intensely dislike sports announcers who think it's their place to cheer for their favorite athletes or teams. I want objectivity, even though 99 percent of the American viewers are cheering for Armstrong, because if the announcers aren't objective we don't know if they're giving us the whole story. For instance, let's say credible information that Armstrong has used performance-enhancing drugs becomes available. Will we be able to trust the Armstrong fans in the media to give us a full account?

Having said that, I've been a little surprised at how many media types say Armstrong won't win. Bob Ryan on ESPN said he had no chance of winning at all.

dhodge said...

Well, I think that this tour is still Lance's to lose. Anything can happen once they go up into the mountains, but I certainly wouldn't bet against Lance. It is kind of weird to hear Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, two Brits, falling all over themselves to praise Lance. Of course, it's not like they have any of their own countrymen to cheer for, there are no riders in this year's tour from the UK (or Ireland, for that matter).