By now, you know that Lance Armstrong will be giving a two-and-a-half-hour confession to Oprah Winfrey on Thursday and Friday nights (Two nights? Jesus Christ, Shogun wasn't that long). No one who watches this thing will be there to hear Armstrong admit to doping. We all knew that ages ago. The reason people are gonna watch (and they will) is to see if, for once, Lance Armstrong shows some remorse, some semblance of regret for all the people he dicked over. They want to know... Hey, is that guy still a fucking asshole?
Between last week's Hall of Fame shutout and Armstrong's coming public crucifixion, we're getting a clinic in how much we Americans like to see assholes get exactly what's coming to them. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire were all supposedly shut out of the Hall because they were cheaters. But I promise you that most voters kept those guys out of the Hall because they LIKED the idea of keeping them out of the Hall, because all three of those men are surly pricks (McGwire less so, but was known for being prickly in his playing days). Bonds and Clemens are two of the greatest baseball players of all time. But seriously, who wants to give THOSE ASSSHOLES the satisfaction? Fuck that. Let's keep them out of the Hall. Matter of fact, let's hold expensive Congressional hearings, indict them for perjury and see if we can jail them. Why? Because fuck them, that's why. Oh, and we care about the children and whatnot.
You can get away with a lot if you're a star athlete. You can obstruct justice in a murder case, as Ray Lewis did. You can use PEDs on occasion, as Andy Pettitte did. You can do a great many things and still find a way back into the public's good graces. But the one thing that fans, and especially the media, do not tolerate is assholishness. It's okay to be an asshole on the field, to channel all your petty dickishness into winning games and performing at a high level. That totally makes you a WARRIOR GRRRRRR HERM EDWARDS SAYS YOU JUST WANT TO WIN. But to let it spill out into the real world? Not good. Lance Armstrong oversaw a sophisticated doping operation that lorded over an entire sport for the better part of a decade. And I guess that's bad. But I promise you, if he had overseen such a gigantic cheating operation and been NICE about it, people wouldn't want him thrown into a stockade as they do now. They might have even let it slide, what with the whole ball cancer angle.
And he should have known that. He should have seen the way an asshole like Pete Rose got double-extra punishment because he was a scumbag in addition to being a rule-breaker. History has proven, time and again, that if you are a smug, unrepentant asshole, then you have committed the biggest sin in the sporting world. We the people will demand a punishment placed upon your head that is ten times the amount your crime merits. Pete Rose will never see the inside of the Hall of Fame, and that's because he's a disgusting person and few people in baseball want to see him happy.
Same with Armstrong. I don't really care if Armstrong confesses outright or not because I already know he did it. I don't care that he did it! Use drugs and bike up a mountain all you like. No no, what I would like is for him to SUFFER. I would like him to experience great unhappiness for being enough of a prick to do shit like this. Put him in jail for all I care. He sicced lawyers on people, which is one of the worst things one person can do to another person. He constantly threw the money he raised for cancer (and whether that money actually accomplished anything is a bit murky) in everyone's face as a cheap excuse for being a dick. He made this ad:
He's an asshole and he deserves to be shit on. Whether or not he actually merits being thrown in jail and having his penis electrocuted is of little concern to me. Once you cross into Extreme Asshole territory, you invite people to throw rationality out the window. It becomes an intensely personal matter. Your crime becomes superfluous. You are now being punished for being YOU. We are not a society that tolerates people who are both successful AND are jerks about it. And we have a thin-skinned national media that takes being lied to oh so very personally. You don't want to humiliate self-loathing media folks like that. They'll drone on for AGES about how you duped them, and then they'll hound you to the gates of Hell for daring to make them look stupid.
Long ago, while he was still in public denial, Lance Armstrong said that he was the target of a witch hunt. And he was right. But when you're as big of an asshole as he was, you invite the lynch mob to your door. If you're gonna cheat, cheat with a smile on your face.