I Don’t Miss Her, I Miss Who I Thought She Was

I’m sorry; there’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to state it straight out: I think it’s time we broke up.

I’ve had a declining interest in you for years, really; ever since I went to college—since I was a teenager, actually. Oh, I know there were times when I seemed to get excited about you, even get worked up emotionally on special occasions, but that was really more about the celebration and the alcohol involved, and the camaraderie with our mutual lovers.

But lately, I’ve been feeling particularly estranged from them, too, not just you. I read their passionate letters to the editor on Velonews.com; I see them walking around the city on Sunday afternoons bedecked out in their colorful jerseys professing their love for you. I listen on Monday afternoon to their recaps of making love with you on Sunday, seemingly either ecstatically rapturous or heart-crushingly sad—it’s almost always tumultuous, though, and I only can shake my head in wonder.

I wonder how they can still arouse their passions for you. I wonder how I’ve become so alienated from them, and from my own passion for you. But for years now, it seems as if my passions have gradually been drifting in other directions, and lately seem to have waned for you altogether. I’d rather be outside actually doing something myself, rather than staying at home, passively indulging in your voyeuristic pleasures.

Oh, I occasionally feel a slight tingling when you present me with some new twist to your old game—something odd or strange, at least new to me, like the Rugby World Cup. Or women’s professional [tag]basketball[/tag] or [tag]soccer[/tag] (football to the rest of the world). But I know it’s just a passing fancy on my part; after all, I get bored easily, and as such new things frequently always turn my head.

And like most—but thankfully not all—new things, however, I quickly lose interest, especially when I realize it’s just a variation on a theme. It’s just you in a lovely new dress, cut in an imaginative way.

Furthermore, our parting is partly your own doing; surely you must realize that. Your own actions have gradually chipped away my love for you; now there is nothing left. I was willing to hang in there after the [tag]Floyd Landis[/tag] fiasco, which was really tough, coming after [tag]Tyler Hamilton[/tag]. But I so loved this side of you, that despite of my declining interest, I just didn’t want to let you go.

But then [tag]Marion Jones[/tag] came along and finally confirmed what everyone suspected, confirmed what you and I didn’t want to admit. This was the proverbial straw that cracked the last intact vertebrae in the spine that was my love for you. I know, that’s a rather awkward metaphor, but this is tough to say; just let me get through it.

So, it’s over. I’m done with you, professional sports. Good bye.

Oh, come on, don’t carry on. We both know we’ve been hurtling toward this moment for years. First there was pro football; I’ve been fed up with that for a long time, every since that strike—that and the [tag]Bengals[/tag] losing to those god damn 49’ers in the Superbowl. Twice. I admit I still feel a frisson of anger when I think about [tag]Forrest Gregg[/tag] running [tag]Pete Johnson[/tag] up the middle when the Bengals were down by five points with only a few minutes left in the 1982 superbowl—up the middle, four—count ’em, four—times. In a row.

Our quarterback, [tag]Kenny Anderson[/tag] was the top ranked QB that year in the league. We had top-rated receivers, including the AFC rookie of the year. Why the hell would you run Johnson up the middle four times in a row? Sure, I’d try it myself once or twice, but four?

My 12-year-old self was crushed by that loss, and I suppose I never fully recovered. And now it doesn’t matter at all. Now, when I see people getting upset over professional football, I can’t help but just shake my head, and smile to myself, thinking, “I used to be like you—when I was 12.”

But I kept our relationship up, for appearances sake, as being a male in this culture, that’s what is expected of me. Back in my bartending days, I considered it my job to know all about you, because our mutual lovers would always want to discuss you with me. But deep inside, I just didn’t care; it was an act that I performed to pad my tip jar—like flirting with bar flies.

Maybe at one time we could have settled into a comfortable friendship as we aged together.

But no. Perhaps sensing my love was waning, you gave me [tag]cycling[/tag], and for that, I will always be grateful to you. I still love to peddle, cruising over asphalt and shredding dirt. And we had some good times together, we two and our mutual lovers, watching the grand tours, following Lance’s quest to do what no one had done before, and following the pro-tour, and of course the World championships.

But then came the doping scandals—again—followed by hero Tyler Hamilton’s fall from grace. I still want to believe he’s innocent—he raced a [tag]Tour de France[/tag] and finished with a broken collarbone, and that’s nearly super-human bad ass, regardless of whether or not he doped. After all, I have some idea what’s like. And he was humble to boot, too, unlike so many of your athletes.

Then came Floyd Landis. Like me, he discovered mountain biking first, before road riding and racing. And there he was, on Stage 17, in the first post-Lance tour, doing the impossible, accomplishing a Herculean feat—with a painful rotten hip bone to boot, that would soon be replaced with an artificial joint after the tour. And almost as if on cue, the testosterone fiasco ensued—shades of Tyler Hamilton.

I wanted to believe, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that the cliché of smoke and fire more often than not holds true. Maybe Floyd, Tyler, Lance and Jan are all innocent, but dammit, pro cycling is riddled with cheaters, that much is obvious.

So with the Marion Jones story coming so shortly after Floyd—it was just too much for my already too-fragile feelings for you. You know I still loved the [tag]Olympics[/tag]—it’s still in many ways for amateur athletes, as opposed to spoiled-brat, drug-addled, shrunken-testicled, acne-riddled millionaires (no, of course I’m not referring to Barry)–and i remember watching Marion compete in Sidney, writing her own amazing story. She first made the Olympic team out of high school, so everyone figured she was natural. And she was so lovely out on the track—literally poetry in motion.

But then the truth finally rose to the surface of the ocean of lies surrounding you and [tag]BALCO[/tag]. Et tu, Marion?

So, we’re done, you and I.

Like I said, no need to make a scene—you still have millions of other lovers around the world, who are willing to look the other way, or even encourage you in your cheating ways. You’ll forget me quickly, if you ever really needed me, which I suspect you didn’t.

But for me—I want to see an athlete excel on his or her own merits, learning to get the most out what Mother Nature gave them—not BALCO. I want to see sport, not the freak show that is professional bodybuilding—and professional baseball, football, cycling, track, etc. etc.

I know, I know. There is a lot of pressure on you from those types willing to look the other way, who want to win at all costs, even if it means cheating. There is the money to think of, of course. And there are plenty of your lovers that want to see the freak show. We all have our metaphorical crosses to bear; you made your choice; I’ve made mine.

Good bye, professional sports; I wish you well; you’ll be fine, I’m sure—although “fine” is a relative term.

But I’ve devoted more than enough precious time to you, and I have other things to do, and other passions to follow, other loves.

Besides, something tells me we’ll be running into each other more and more at the Olympics … sigh.

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