Just when you thought you had heard it all when it comes to drug and cycling, somebody throws in a new twist. And when the person is Missy "the Missle" Giove you have to expect that the new twist is not just a somersault; it is probably something on the order of a triple flip. You might remember that Missy was a huge force on the women's MTB downhill circuit in the 1990's winning the World Championships in 1994.
She's not in the news because of a comeback. She's not in the news because she tested positive for performance enhancing drugs(PED's). She is in the news because she was busted after hauling about 400 pounds of marijuana from the west coast to the east coast. It was not clear if the marijuana was for medical reasons or personal use.
Giove was reportedly to be paid $30,000 for transporting the marijuana cross country, but ran afoul of the law in New York and was arrested. If convicted she could face up to 40 years in jail which is significantly more serious than a two year suspension from competition.
Giove was a huge draw at MTB races, one of the first female superstars of the sport. During her halcyon days as a professional downhill racer, Giove was reportedly making upwards of $300,000/year. She still holds the record for most NORBA downhill wins by a female.
First Tiger Woods. Now Missy Giove. Parents, please be the role models for your kids. Don't make them rely on athletes for that purpose.
Tiger Woods is in the news these days for all the wrong reasons. In case you have been in a cave for the past week, Woods has allegedly had an affair with at least one woman which ultimately led to a domestic disturbance between himself and his wife, Elin. Mixed into this sordid drama is a car crash, a bunch of superficial injuries to Woods and his wife smashing out two of the windows in his car with a golf club.
Some people argue that this is a personal matter between Woods and his wife, and probably his alleged mistress(es). Others contend that Woods is a highly public figure and those who live in the spotlight can't turn the high beams off when things aren't so rosy. Both of the sides of this debate have some good points and it is hard to really decide who is right. But, that is not what I am writing about.
Just like professional cycling, golf exists because of sponsorships. There are big corporate sponsorships like AT&T, Buick and Nike and also lesser sponsors such as the golf companies. Regardless of the size of the sponsorship, the survival of the sport depends on the sponsors.
It is a bit of an oversimplification, but these sponsors give their dollars because of the image of the event or the athlete they are sponsoring. The sponsors want to project a certain image and the event or athlete they choose help them do that.
We saw in the infamous Michael Phelps 'bong' photo that if an athlete's image changes or is tarnished, a sponsor may decide to pull their sponsorship dollars. What remains to be seen in the Tiger Woods situation is if any of his current sponsors feel that his image is no longer a desirable commodity.
So, you can debate whether the general public should be concerned with what is going on in Tiger Woods' world, but his sponsors have every right to pull their money if they feel that Woods no longer fits the image they want to project.
Two of the greatest sporting events took place this past weekend, one favorite prevailed, another came up short. While most of us are participants in the sports we follow very few of us ever reach the highest levels. That's OK, I am not going to get into a religious/scientific debate about genetics and evolution, but my guess is that is the way it is supposed to be. To be sure, we set goals for ourselves and strive to reach them, however we usually aren't performing in front of a live crowd and a television audience in the millions.
While it depends on the specific sport, professional athletes in the most popular athletic endeavours do feel pressure from sponsors and fans to do well. One of the characteristics of the best athletes is how they respond to that pressure.The word 'choke' describes how some athletes deal with the pressure. On the other end of the spectrum is the word 'clutch'. Hey, but I am not telling you something you don't already know and if asked you could probably come up with a list of 'clutch' players and 'chokers' for your favorite sport.
It is hard to use the words 'Tiger' and 'choke' in the same sentence since, on the golf course, Mr. Woods is the most consistent golfer in the world. He's been ranked number one for so many years he makes Roger Federer's accomplishments look human. Using the words 'Boonen' and "clutch' is almost passe, he's won so many big races that he is almost expected to win. The fact that he triumphs when he is expected to win is what makes his victories so special and amazing.
Does Tiger's second place at the Masters and failure to mount a charge when the eventual winner fired a 3-over par 75 on the final, albeit windy, day make him a choker? Did he succumb to the pressure or was he just a bit off his game? You have to feel sorry for Tiger. If he doesn't win a major he is considered a loser.The guy beats ever other golfer save one and he has to answer questions about what happened. If money can buy happiness then he shouldn't feel bad for long, but you and I both know that what drives Tiger Woods isn't the size of his bank account.
Tom Boonen not only won the Queen of the Classics, Paris-Roubaix, but he did it in masterful fashion, going off the front and proving without a doubt that he was one of the strongest, if not the strongest rider in the race. With two of the other heavy favorites, Fabian Cancellara and Juan Antonio Flecha for company in the three-up break, it was an epic duel in the making. In a recent interview I did with Cancellara, he mentioned that the pressure on Boonen to win in Belgium(Paris-Roubaix is on the Franco-Belgian border) and in the classics is huge, something he(Cancellara) would have difficulty handling.
In the end, both Tiger and Tom gave us memorable performances though only one was declared the winner. Dealing with pressure at any level reveals our character.Let's hope we can learn from watching both of these elite athletes perform on the world's stage.