Ribbon Chasers

When Competitiveness Consumes

Since his confession to Oprah Winfrey last month, Lance Armstrong’s psyche has been lanced and explored from many different angles. Some have deemed the man who collected millions for cancer research a psychopath, others are less judgmental but no less disappointed. Writing in Commonweal (January 11) before the Oprah interview, Timothy Schilling sighed, “I still love Armstrong. I love him in spite of the bad things I now must concede he probably did. I’ve done bad things myself, and I haven’t helped or inspired anywhere near as many people as Armstrong.”

It is, I suppose, best for those who have found a beacon in this fallen superman to forgive Armstrong his transgressions. And it is true, our popular culture takes too much gossipy delight in watching the lives of celebrities unravel. Nevertheless, for all the psychologizing and moralizing about the winged rider, there has not been enough reflection on Armstrong’s mad addiction to competition.

Banned from racing, Armstrong won’t be listening for a starting gun any time in the near future. To him that quietude feels like a gun at his head. In his Oprah revelations, Armstong didn’t gnash his teeth about the people’s lives he crashed with libel suits or about the dent he left in...

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About the Author

Gordon Marino is a professor of philosophy at St. Olaf College, director of the college’s Hong Kierkegaard Library, and editor of The Quotable Kierkegaard (Princeton University Press, 2014).