Super Champions

I’m not big on super champions. I tend to like people and teams that have a harder time, that might not win. Sure, I’ve liked some uber champs but normally because they’re human or because I followed them from the start and can “share” in their victories. Champions that win everything with seemingly no effort? No thanks.

I loved Senna, he won loads of stuff but he was human, he got angry, he made some mistakes. I didn’t like Prost, he seemed too perfect (and he was racing against Senna). I hate Shumacher who wins with a subservient teammate who does is bidding and a team with too much money. I loved Jordan’s Bulls and Aikman/Smith/Irvin’s Cowboys, they won a lot but I “knew” them before they did. I liked Hinault because he had “panache”, he was a fighter. I dislike Lance Armstrong who takes only one race a year seriously in a team with too many good athletes doing his bidding. I love the Pats because they win as a team, no superstars who seem superhuman. I loved Agassi who was having fun. I hated Lendl, I disliked Sampras and Graf. I hate the Yankees, bunch of overpaid premadonnas in a too rich team. I went back forth on Tiger when he was winning everything.

I don’t like them because they mess up the show. How much fun are F1 races anymore? How much fun was this year’s Tour de France? Not at all, that’s how much. But that’s not the only thing, they are also breaking records held by athletes I loved as a child and they are doing so in a manner I deem unworthy. I can take boring races, I can take Senna’s record being beaten but I’d like them beaten by someone who brings something to it, someone who fights the way the previous champions did.

Shumacher doesn’t have a teammate who can pass him. Senna and Prost were in the same team, fighting each other tooth and nail. Shum races in an era where the “sport” is an industry, were megacorporations drop mountains of money and don’t care about the show. Not his fault, I know, but he plays it to the hilt, using every sneaky trick to gain an advantage, tricks that Stewart and Mansell and Fangio wouldn’t have thought of pulling.

The Yankees have TV contracts that make them richer than any other team and instead of sharing (like the NFL) with the other teams to have a good league for the fans they keep it all and buy championships. Lance Armstrong cares about one race only and manages it like a bank account. Where are the Hinaults and Anquetils showing up at every race, fighting back attacks, being boss, showing some balls?

I know, I know, Armstrong does fight through pain for three weeks, he beat cancer, he’s an exceptional athlete. I know, I know, Shumacher is a fantastic driver, I know, he won championships in a lowly Benetton. It doesn’t change the fact that now they just think, plan, they don’t feel and suffer for their championships like they should. And it’s not only a nostalgia thing, don’t tell me an NFL championship where a third of the teams can win isn’t better than an MLB where 4-5 can. Don’t tell me Villeneuve’s champ car crown wasn’t more sporting and interesting against 6-7 other racers than his F1 championship against a couple of guys. It was better before there was too much money but it can still be fun sometimes.

I’m just looking forward to how I’ll feel about the next record breakers. When TV convinces the Tour de France to cut back to 10 days, hold it twice a year and some young Singaporean built “from the ground up” in a lab wins 7 in 5 years. Or when an 18 year old with enhanced reflexes who trained only on virtual systems wins 20 times in one season because F1 races 30 times a year. Bahumbug.

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