Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bos is the BOSS...

I know- everybody has been using that title, but it works so just shut up already.

(Photo AFP)
As a track racer, specifically a sprinter, I've been meaning to comment about the new 200m World Record just set by Theo Bos of the Netherlands. Seeing as to how I've ridden with the former holder of the record, Curt Harnett of Canada, and knew the previous holder of the record before that, Ken Carpenter (formerly of San Diego and a guy I hung out with), I feel a little connection to this new record.

9.772 seconds to cover 200m on a velodrome may not seem like much of a feat to anybody who is unaware of what that record means... but it is really freakin' fast! In contrast, my very best 200m I've ever ridden here in San Diego was 11.1 seconds- which was one of the fastest times recorded here that year ('96). That was a fast damn time back then, for here, but 9.772 is light years faster in the world of sprinting. Harnett's 11 year old record was 9.865 and was set at high altitude in Bogota Colombia. Bos set his record at sea level in Moscow. The magnitude of this can not be overlooked.

I admit that I am a bit of a fan of Bos. The guy represents what I believe to be the new era of track sprinting; he's not as bulky as most other sprinters of the previous era, he's got phenomenal strength to weight power and has blistering leg speed. He's simply a better sprinting machine. Look at his World Championship record; he's won all three of the sprint disciplines of Keirin, Match Sprint and Kilo. He is uniquely gifted as a rider and is still only 23 years old, so he has great years still ahead of him. According to one recent report, he's planning to switch to racing on the road after the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Road sprinters should be terrified of that news.

In the current climate of "they're all dopers", many people have come out and said that they feel that he simply has to be doping to accomplish this new record at sea level and to accomplish it all all. We have a very cynical view of our beloved sport these days because doping is out of control and our heroes are often tainted. The constant barrage of bad news has given many of us a jaundiced eye towards our sport and our "heroes". I believe that doping is an issue that has to be addressed, but I do not believe that riders are guilty until proven innocent. More importantly, I refuse to simply sit here with my mouth shut and allow the sport to be raked over the coals. People, mostly the press, have to stop painting cycling as the worst offender in the doping crisis. Look at baseball, football, soccer, basketball, swimming... all sports have a doping problem and they always will. I have said this before, but I'll go ahead and repeat myself again; as long as there is money, fame, recognition or even the whiff of "glory" to be won, people will cheat in sport, just as in life itself. Hell, I've known guys racing just at the Masters level who doped. For what? A freaking water bottle, a few packets of energy gel and a gift certificate to a local bike shop for winning the local office park crit? Bullshit! People are tempted to cheat for all kinds of reasons every day all day. It's a fact of life and it ain't confined to cycling.

Back up a second and catch your breath before you suggest that all riders or other athletes are doping. Many of them are, maybe even the majority, but not all. Not in cycling and not in any other sport. More importantly, don't act like they committed murder when they do get caught. They are athletes who happen to be damned good at playing a game, catching, kicking, throwing or hitting a ball or riding a bike. They are not role models for our children for being athletes. Maybe if they come from a really bad background and overcame to become a better person who helps the greater community, but not for being an athlete. Not even for a second. If we want to hold models up in front of our children as aspirational goals, then point them at teachers, firemen, doctors or anybody who does something to make this a better world. Not an athlete or other celebrity who simply entertains us. Every time I hear the public outrage about our children being lead down a path of destruction because of fallen "heroes" who happen to be athletes or celebrities I just want to vomit! Seriously? You're upset because an athlete is going to make a bigger impact on your child than their teacher? That's when you have to grab the emergency brake and yank that son of a bitch up hard and fast. I love this sport and others very much, but I will never be caught telling my children they should "be like Mike". Unless Mike happens to be a soldier who has returned from Iraq and has dedicated his life to helping his fellow vets recover from the horrors of war by helping them cope with that adjustment to life after war or injury. That's a good role model... not somebody who can run fast.

So, after that rant, I am really excited by Theo's new World Record. I'll be super bummed if he ever gets caught doping because I like the guy and respect what he has done. He seems like a decent human being too. Now, if he saves a kitty from a burning building, maybe I'll add him to a hero list of some kind.



Vincenzo said...

great definition of a role model...i just had this conversation with a coworker of mine who just happened to be veteran making his way through life with three kids needing guidance through cruicial growing years...i second your motion on the hero concept as well...

James T said...

Good Rant Tim. I too get tired of defending the sport of cycling to those who only see the negative headlines about doping scandals. As you pointed out, other sports have doping problems, but they are simply not doing very much to address them. If the NFL, NBA, and MLB are so clean, why don’t they join WADA. It is not that international sports like cycling, soccer, or tennis are inherently dirtier sports than the ones that are popular here in the States. It just seems that way to American fans because those sports are actually making an effort to make sure the athletes are competing clean.

Anonymous said...

i as well know cyclist who have doped just to "try it out"
i also feel like it shouldnt be encouraged. How do you feel about setting aside a few FDA approved items with known long term effects that would have to be perscribed by a legit doctor and say "here you go boys" maybe attatch a stigma to them?
would that not seemingly atleast keep people from using more dangerous drugs like bovine hormones and experimental stuff?

also, so what if a cyclist gets bad press for doping. it isnt as bad as the nuggets & knicks brawl! when we get pro tour team brawls THAT myfriends is when cycling is in trouble!

T-Guy J said...

Bos is absolutely sick...and he is really young. How many cycling world record holders are 23 years old.

At least we know who will be dominating the sport for the forseeable future (injury and motivation dependent)

Anonymous said...

One small rant of my own: you have a typo - it is Bogota, Colombia, not Columbia. Trust me, I was born in Bogota, which explains why I have cycling in my blood.

Besides that little issue, great rant. I always agreed with Charles Barkley when he said he didn't want to be a role model to young kids because that was the parents' job. They are the ones that need to set the standard for the kids, not over paid and pampered athletes.

Tim Jackson said...

Al- Fixed the spelling of Colombia just for you... Masiwife already made me change the spelling of "roll" to role... smartypants that she is.

Anonymous said...

bos is the boss.

dude is a phenom...rumour has it he is coming over to the road!

Anonymous said...

Gracias Se~ormasi!