Friday, October 27, 2006

Mac Attack

Ok, I’ll admit it – when Stadler blew up last year after not being able to change a flat, throwing his bike while on camera and having a hissy-fit, I decided I didn’t much like the guy. I’m of a mind that a Professional anyone – lawyer, doctor, soldier or ATHLETE – should set an example of behavior for the rest of us to follow. While I understand the emotional aspect of Stadler’s plight in ’05, I would have hoped for more from him. No, I’m not going to bow to the “you would have done the same thing if your year of training would have amounted to nothing….” argument, not because I know for sure what I would have done in that situation, but because I have an expectation of behavior of Professionals. As a Professional soldier, I experienced similar stresses and physical excursions (things like Ranger School, Special Forces Selection, etc…), and suffered a few defeats as well, and managed to maintain a professional image to my subordinates and peers as was expected of an Officer. I’m in no way comparing my level of fitness then to his now – just the level of stress in physically and mentally challenging situations.

This year, he raced the perfect race, and is crowned a champion of champions. Good for him – I respect him as one of the best athletes in the world. But yet again, he’s shown his lack of Professionalism in his actions and comments – from the throwing of the wreath, to use of profanity on the ramp, to his after-race comments. Now I swear like sailor sometimes (but not on national TV), and after 8hrs, I can understand not wanting a pointy, leafy crown on my head (but have been required to wear uncomfortable protective gear after some pretty long days and weeks). But what I don’t understand or condone is an attack of integrity on a fellow athlete that was competing on the same playing field and by the same rules.

Yes, he won. He proved that he could lead out and keep that lead and be the best in the world – and if he wants to rub it in, so be it. If he’s a poor sport, or if his personality is one, like many professional athletes today, that shows it’s backside more often than not, than there will be folks that are drawn to that and he’ll have his fans and people who are not his fans. Talking trash is all the rage and boosts TV ratings. Blasting a guy’s abilities that you just beat may be acceptable in some folks eyes – it’s poor form, but there’s some truth to it – on that day, you were better than him. Calling a man a cheater – questioning his integrity – is a totally different animal.

Clearly, Macca played within the rules of the race, rules derived from a scientific study where it was proven that a 7-meter draft zone provides negligable advantage to the drafter – the officials shadowed them for much of the race, as did the media, and if a violation had taken place, he would have been penalized. But that’s not good enough for the champ. Because he chose to play by leading out the entire race, and knowingly submitting himself to a harder bike leg without the pacing of other competitors, playing to his strengths, he has the right to question first the rules and second the strategy and integrity of fellow competitors? Physically, this guy is tough – but even with the win, Peter Reid was right, mentally, this guy is a wimp – a whiner and a cry-baby (and when confronted by Macca, denied his statements until a blackberry was thrust in his face - hmmm, add liar to the list?)

Accusing someone of cheating is huge. Cheating is normally defined as taking an unfair advantage. Cheating is taking banned substances. Cheating is cutting out part of the course. Cheating is drafting – breaking the 7 meter rule. Thing is, once you are found to have cheated, you are forever a Cheater. A level of trust with your fellow man dwindles to a point where people look at you differently, deal with you differently, and think less of you and your integrity. In a professional environment where cheating is becoming prolific and true professionals must take extreme measures to ensure they are in keeping with the rules – the flippant use of the term by a fellow athlete is, well, inexcusable.


Tri-Dummy said...

Dude, I couldn't agree more. The guy is a baby. Macca was gracious in defeat.

My fav quote from Macca..."Norman Stadler will be a target in my race season next year and I will take every chance I possible can to race him next season. I will be back in Kona next year to race him again and am counting down the days. His talk is exactly what I need to keep me motivated for the season. He will be a target and I really look forward to next season."

You need to forward your blog story to Roman to post on the raceAthlete's really good.

Bolder said...


dude, send me the html from blogger... i'll put it up on raceAthlete!