Chapeau Landis!

Landis being congratulated by the Cannibal, Eddy Merckx

What an amazing Tour de France this year! This was easily the most exciting race since 1989 and 2003, with the race changing leads a record-tying eleven times. Landis truly deserves this race after proving to everyone that it’s not over till it’s over. I watched Stages 16 and 17 live, and like all those who have been following the race, I’ve gone from sadness to incredulity to sheer amazement. I’m shocked that this sporting event and this particular story has not gotten the attention it should have in the mainstream US press. Amid the stories of the Bonds “will he get indicted or not?”, Landis’ remarkable comeback is getting second page status. That’s really quite sad.

Felix, who has been staying at the house for the past two days after returning from Vietnam, was telling me that the ratings for this year’s Tour are down 50% from Armstrong’s seventh victory last July. What can be done to bring the ratings and American’s interest up?

Here’s my theory on why cycling, nor soccer, in America hasn’t caught on. Americans share a tradition of having a strong work ethic. Despite this, when it comes to sports and recreation, we’re basically lazy. We don’t like sports where we have to go all out for hours at a time. We like to rest and relax between plays. Sports in the US are tied heavily to the broadcast networks and commercialism. Baseball, football, and basketball all have plenty of commercial breaks, wherein Americans can grab a beer, go to the bathroom, or stuff themselves full of food. In soccer, you can’t miss a moment; a goal can happen almost anytime. With cycling, there’s no rest on the bike for three weeks; you keep going and going, every day trying to turn back the clock in the exorable march to Paris. Sports that don’t have the interests of capitalism and commercialism just don’t cut it here in the US. Can it change? I think so, but I struggle right now to see how. What do you think?

Landis celebrates in Paris

3 Comments

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  1. very interesting theory adam. my friends and i often pondered why soccer doesn’t take off in the u.s. like the rest of the world, and i think that’s the best explanation i’ve heard so far. (maybe because i’m too busy grabbing a beer or going to the bathroom!) another advantage of sports with a lot of commercial breaks is that you have more opportunities to talk smack about the other team and maybe check the grill for burnt meat! =D

  2. I don’t think its much about capitalism or commercialism–even the Tour, and soccer have huge marketing dollars and arrangements with the participants and companies to push the sport. I think it’s more about the homegrown factor. Baseball, football, and basketball are all uniquely American in the sense of living and our way of life. Historical events have further solidified our connection with these sports. Also, not to say that there isn’t a following of cycling, for instance, in the States, but Europe has had a much longer tradition with cycling as an everday component in society. Here, we have a strong automobile history that has permeated our culture, for good or bad. Still further, the collective symbolism of “The World Cup,” is in many ways counter to, the individualism that is America.

  3. I’ll tell you what the Tour de France needs–not more viewers–better awards!

    “For our first place winner: a trophy! And not just any trophy, but one which we’ve had specially made to resemble a shiny version of the Holy Grail as depicted in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Many congratulations! Just be careful if you drink from that thing.”

    “For our second place winner: a Discman, or maybe it’s a very large coaster. Don’t matter. C’est la vie… or something like that.”

    “For our third place winner: well, we’ve plum run out of awards, CD players, AND coasters. What are we going to do? Um, here, have this baby! He’s getting on my nerves.”

    (*Second place winner mutters to himself: I don’t know what the hell I’m going to do with this Discman coaster, but I’m totally stoked that I don’t have to change that kid’s diaper…*)

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