Sorry, people, cycling is not a sport
Betting Fool, SF Gate
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
©2003 SF Gate
The buzz moved throughout the office like a very small wildfire.
Lance Armstrong was making a move in the Tour de France. Left for dead, and fearing that evil German Jan Ullrich was about to pass him in Stage 15, "Our Man Lance" defied the experts and overcame an attack by a French handbag to take control of the race.
"This has to be one of the best stories in sports this year," said one cycling enthusiast.
My head began to hurt. Something was terribly wrong. Oh, that's right. Cycling is not a sport.
You heard me. For many reasons, the thing Lance Armstrong does so well is not a sport. It's an activity, a hobby. It's no different than darts, or lawn bowling or kayaking or rock climbing.
Golf is a sport. Hockey is a sport. Real bowling is a sport. Cycling is not.
Why? Glad you asked.
My basic premise is that given a couple years training and a cool bike, I could be a professional cyclist. I might not be able to compete in the Tour de France, but I'd get close. Come on, pretty much everyone can pedal a bike.
Here are few more concrete reasons why cycling is not a sport:
* The activity's top event takes place in France. Yeah, the same country that produced the Warriors' top draft pick. You know the new saying: "If it's French, it sucks!"
* There is no strategy. Oh wait, go faster than the other guy. Terrific. I don't want to hear about this alleged team strategy. The other members of "Blue Crush," or whatever the hell they call Lance's team, are caddying for the great one. They have no chance of winning. Why do they bother to show up?
* You can do it with a broken collarbone. Tyler Hamilton is courageous and all that, but seriously, this is not a sport.
* There are no balls (insert lame Armstrong testicle joke here) and no scoreboard. Not a sport.
* You have to go to REI to buy equipment for this hobby. If you can't find it at Big 5, it's not a sport.
* It's on the Outdoor Life Network in the middle of the night. Swimming and poker and pool and dogs jumping off piers are on ESPN this week. Not the Tour de France.
* When Lance retires, and American cyclists return to the middle of the pack, the Tour de France will return to its proper place in our sports media, in small type on the agate page.
* Millions of Europeans and a handful of Americans are wrong. Soccer is boring and cycling is not a sport.
* A quick recap of cycling folk: They pay $80 for a shirt because it has superior "wicking." They drive Volvos and Saabs and live in Noe Valley, are crunchy and self-indulgent, liberal, but not TOO liberal, they voted for the Green Party and they cheer those who participate in Critical "Mess." They have to do something on the weekends they can tell their vegetarian (but I eat sushi!) friends about. "I did a 50-miler on Saturday. I got an outstanding view of the sunset (or ocean, or hills, etc.)"
If their friend(s) did a 75-miler, they'd say: "I was up for that, but I had to get back for a macrobiotic party a friend of mine was holding at their new place at the Presidio."
Call me an ugly American or a beer-guzzling dinosaur. But you know I'm right.