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Commentary: Mark Smith: Don’t be too hard on sports liars

Many expressed surprise and some dismay at world champion cyclist Lance Armstrong’s admission this month, after years of denials, that he used performance enhancing drugs to help him win races and titles.

There was a political satire book a couple of years ago called: “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.”

Armstrong said he did not consider himself a cheater because he considered “cheating” as doing something to get an unfair advantage.

Lance said that since everyone in cycling used drugs, he was just leveling the playing field. Kinda like the governors in some states closing the polls early because too many people kept voting for the opposition party.

Armstrong may not understand that the cheating was only half the issue. The lying about it for almost a decade was as bad or worse. When you lie, just admit it. Say you’re sorry and don’t take 10 years to do it.

But I wouldn’t be too hard on Lance. If you try to report on sports people, you have to understand that you are going to get lied to a lot. It bothers me but I have made peace with it after many years.

Here’s the deal. When you are talking to someone who is not important to you (read: me) who will report your words to people of greater importance to you, you’ll say anything to that conduit person. It’s not personal. The truth is out there somewhere. Just don’t look for it here.

My favorite coach/player lies? You’ve heard them all.

“My kid is good now and he ’s young. He can do nothing but get better.”

That’s an understandable dream lie. Coaches know that young players get worse just as often as they get better. If all young players all got better everybody would win every game every year. Like they say in the Disney movies, “a dream is a wish your heart makes.”

“I wouldn’t trade my player for anybody.”

Yes you would, coach. And so would her teammates. How about that first-team all-stater at the school on the other side of the county? You have to bite your lip not to roll your eyes at that whopper. Coaches know there are 10 players better than their best kid but they have to lie because the parents want to hear that little Susie is the next LeBron James.

“The difference in this year’s team is that we all get along so well.”

No, the difference in this year’s team is that you are winning games so you keep your mouth shut about how you really feel about your teammates. You get on each others nerves just like any group of 12 people on the Planet Earth doing anything else. This is an understandable lie, as well, though. No player can really say “I hate that selfish punk I’m playing with but he does give us a double-double every night.”

“I’ve gotten so much support from the parents.”

Sure you have, coach. They support your firing. They support you moving to a school in another state. They don’t hate you. They just feel you’ve ruined their kids chance for a Division I scholarship, costing them over $100,000 in college tuition and they want you to suffer.

Those flat tires on your car are just flawed rubber products from the factory.



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