Teed Off (27-01-2012)
with Robert Bicknell
I had this wonderful column on Lance Armstrong cheating and how it compared to golf, but all that falls by the wayside after receiving the news that Huynh Van Son, a former Viet Nam National Champion passed away in his sleep on Wednesday night following a short, intense bout with cancer.
He was 35 years old.
This hits very close to home as the golf community in Viet Nam is quite small and everyone seems to know everyone else and home grown champions are few.
This hits me especially hard as Son was one of "my kids" as we referred to the staff who worked for me at VGCC (Thu Duc) from 1998 – 2002. I took him from a caddie and trained him in golf operations. I watched him grow as a person and a player over the years. When he became champion, all of us were very proud of his achievement.
Son was one of those few people who wore his heart on his sleeve. You always knew where you stood with him and he never sugar-coated anything. He had a fast temper which hurt his golf game in the early years, but as he matured, he learned to control it better and grew into a champion.
Son was also the kind of guy who wanted to help others. If you asked him for a favour, he would try like hell to help you out.
He was a good kid.
RIP Son, you will be remembered as a champion by all of us.
The sports world has been buzzing with the admission by Lance Armstrong to television host Oprah, that he has been doping for all of his career.
Of course, the media cannot help but try and draw a parallel involving other famous sports icons who were hoist by their own petard. Including names like Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, Roger Clemons and, of course, Tiger Woods.
Personally speaking, Tiger shouldn't even be on that list because he cheated on his wife, but not in the sport he played. However, some people claim cheating is cheating and that one-size fits all.
Sorry, but for all his faults, I could never envision Tiger Woods cheating at golf, no matter how bad he was playing.
But there is an area where Armstrong does seem like Tiger and that is the area of apologising and accepting blame. Neither did it quite convincingly.
Remember Tiger's famous press conference where he read a prepared statement and refused all questions? The whole thing lacked sincerity and his claim to be "addicted to sex" resulted in 90 per cent of the men on the planet wearing a grin, knowing they had a new excuse if they got caught with their pants literally down.
Armstrong's interview with Oprah also seemed to lack sincerity, especially in light of what he did and how many people whose faith in not only him, but his charity organisation – Livestrong, were destroyed. His own kids were defending him all those years. How do you look at your children and say, "Sorry, I lied to you" and not feel like the ultimate shitheel?
I have never been able to understand people like that.
When winning at any cost is the way you play the game, any game, you've already lost. You lost the game, but even worse, you've lost yourself. You've lost your sense of morality and, just as importantly, you lost the trust of people who looked up to you.
Sorry, but I don't think Armstrong should ever be allowed to compete at any sport, not even stickball.
His charity organisation, Livestrong, has raised US$500 million for cancer research and, for that, he deserves some credit. His fraudulent career in sports should not take away from the good that he did while being a lying, cheating, bottom feeder. It will not balance the books as far as the sporting public is concerned, but in the long run, sports are a game and helping people who truly need it is far more important.
We can only hope that his charity will not suffer because people depend on it.
Armstrong has a lot to atone for, but first, he needs to look at himself in the mirror and only then will he fully understand the enormity of his transgressions. — VNS