Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I just finished this book last night. Jeremy Schaap of course works for ESPN and wrote Cinderella Man. If you have a few hours to kill, this is a good one to jump into.

Ok, so what does Jessie Owens, the Hitler Olympics, and track and field have to do with cycling?

Lots. What is really interesting in this book, and track and field history in general, is how big fat cats made lots of money off silly guys willing to turn themselves inside out for the glory of sport and country. I remember when Steve Prefontaine took on the whole AAU about prize money. Steve was living on food stamps in a travel trailer trying not to starve, while the AAU elite traveled first class. Imagine working for years at a full time job (running) without getting paid, then watching someone else living the high life while telling you that you aren't doing enough.

On the boat ride to Germany, the stars of the show traveled in steerage. The US Olympic committee had state rooms. After the Olympics, Jessie and his fellow athletes were expected to pay for the privilege of going to the games by racing all over Europe, where they got no money, and the AAU/Olympic committees racked in the bucks. When Jessie protested after months of the dog and pony show, he was suspended and his track and field career was over.

So what has this got to do with cycling? That whole stupid mess between the ASO and the UCI. Don't you just wish that Fat Cats Prudhomme and McQuaid would just duke it out like men in an alley somewhere? I mean really boys! For once lets take a gander about what all this is supposed to be about. It's not about you, but a bunch of people who want to ride their bikes, really, really fast. All this bickering certainly isn't good for cyclists or cycling. Hincappe couldn't ride Paris Nice because he was afraid of suspension, the riders who are riding don't know if they will be suspended, and last year's Tour champion isn't invited to the show. It's time for Fat Cats to put the interest of cycling first, not their own interests.

1 comment:

John P. said...

Nicely written Karen. Having said that though. I think the olympics going pro, hockey, cycling, basketball to name three, have lost a little of that hokey romanticism I used to love.

Sports isn't the only place this kind of thing happens though. I knew a guy in the Red Cross who couldn't take it anymore that they were flying him around the world, staying in 5 star hotels, wining, dining, etc,... yet begging us for money. The UN comes to mind also.