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August 27, 2012

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For me there's a difference between Woods and Armstrong. Woods cheated on his wife, but I'm not aware of any suggestion that he cheated at the sport that brought him so many rewards. Armstrong, on the other hand, cheated at his sport (admittedly like so many of his competitors, but a hundred wrongs still don't make a right). Yes, he has arguably done admirable work through his foundation etc, but none of that likely would have been possible without his success as a cyclist - success, we are now learning, it seems was achieved through a whole list of dubious practices and choices that defy any definition of integrity.

Some will inevitably feel the ends at least forgive the means, if not justify them. I'm not sure I can agree with that. At least I can still respect Woods as a golfer. Boyington was wrong - a hero isn't necessarily a bum. But show me a hero and I'll show you someone just as flawed as the rest of us, which means they don't get a pass on earning my admiration any more than a bum does. I suppose it's the flaw many of us share: we give up our respect to somebody too easily, and in a way I suppose that's better than the alternative. But if we do that, then we shouldn't be so surprised when our "heroes" fall. Ever since Achilles they've all had their flaws. You'd think we would have learned that by now. And you'd think more of them would have learned the benefits of following the example of a hero like Neil Armstrong: do your great thing, and then go on our way and quietly live your life before you screw it all up.

Tiger Woods was a sporting icon for me. What he did to his wife is morally questionable, but that doesn't affect my image of him as a professional Golfer. He was always a sporting icon, and what he did shouldn't change the sport perspective.

On the other hand, it seems Lance Armstrong's success was based on cheating and deceiving not only his sport, but also millions of his fans. I contest the notion that Tiger Woods did no such thing, and no fan looked upto Tiger for the way he lived his life.

And it is surprising to see that the backlash against Tiger Woods was much more intense than the backlash, if any at all, against Lance Armstrong.

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