I have a very hard time remembering how much of sport nowadays is driven by the financial ingredient. Most sport, in the purest form, is a beautiful thing, no matter what the sport is. But when the professional aspects of it start to pollute the beauty of it, then it starts to make you wonder if the mass recognition the sport receives is worth the destructive nature the money, that follows, brings.
I’m not saying that all the cheating and drugs used in sports is because of money, but I think that really gives a huge incentive to not abide by the rules.
Cycling has only become a money driven sport quite recently. If you look back just one generation, that wasn’t the situation. Look at Davis Phinney and his son Taylor (who just made the Olympic Team in both the TT and road race, congratulations!). I remember Davis saying that Taylor’s contract with BMC was more than all the money that Davis made the whole time he raced. And Davis had a pretty long and successful career. That is a pretty cool thing when an athlete can make enough money during his career to allow him to live the rest of his life. It really is.
But the addition of huge amounts of money into most sports tends to bring out the worst in human nature. It kind of makes you wonder if the original Olympics games, only allowing amateurs to compete, might of been alright. I remember when they first started letting professionals race bicycles in the Olympic games. I was all for it. But, when you look back upon it, with Pascal Richardson and Jan Ulrich, etc. winning the road race, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea. Only recently have the professionals given the Olympics the respect the event deserves. It seems like before it was more of an after thought than a focus.
It is so strange to the extent that bicycle riders will go to ride their bikes fast. When Richard Virenque finally spilled his guts, two years after the Festina doping affair, he said that he did over 1000 injections that year. I can’t imagine risking my health so for only fame and money. And that is the same for the lots of other riders that don’t get the fame, only some of the money. It seems so silly.
The weird thing is that cycling really doesn’t have any money in it compared to lots and lots of other sports. Sometimes it is nice to just put the bad thoughts out of my mind and just try to concentrate on the beauty of sport. It is getting harder and harder.