I hear ya, Double. I have long considered cycling to be a rather weenie sport, with a huge focus on ever more specialized and lighter gear – at least the sport it had become in the past decade or two. I do recognize that there are great, tough athletes in the sport — the former pro cyclist I mentioned earlier has a remarkable ability to push himself into deep wells of pain in training (though that can often be a liability) — I am referring more to the overall culture of it. I can also recognize that the culture that embraces Alter-G and underwater treadmills, breathe-rite strips, and who knows what else brings more of a wuss/weenie tinge to running. Guys working full-time jobs in Japan can run faster in the marathon than Ritz and many other talented U.S. runners can, there seems to be a huge emphasis on the physio aspect of developing talent and too little on psychological and U.S. elites are being coddled more and more.
Regarding making money by cheating and not having it keep you up at night, it appears to me that the common refrain is one of presumption that everyone else in the same position is doing similar things and a rationalization that if most others are doing it and getting away with it then it must not be wrong. I recall George Malley analogizing in defense of his own doping the concept of seeing a worn path inside of a cone on a race course, you know that many if not all of the runners ahead of you took a shortcut so you tell yourself you are gaining no undue advantage by following suit. Of course, I know that if I saw that I would go around the cone, regardless, but then maybe I am just not as sophisticated or as savvy as a lot of other people. I know, it is a very slippery slope of situational ethics, yet when your prime focus in life is to win races then you can wind up with unchecked ambition that can blind you to all of the drawbacks of your behavior. It may not be right or excuse the behavior one iota, it is simply an explanation. I can understand the situation to a decent degree yet I still cannot condone it.
I am also with you on scholastic and collegiate running, I love getting to watch them compete. (I am pretty dang excited that CU will host the PAC 12 CC meet this coming fall.) There is a certain purity of purpose to what they do on that level, though I have seen what looks to me like some taint creep in via NXN. You are right about the NBA, they get some of the best athletes – great, skilled athletes will simply get to have longer careers and roughly equivalent (if not better) income levels in the NBA and not have the constant threat of career-ending injury from getting hit by opponents that NFL players face. Even a decently talented athlete can make a nice living as a sub in the NBA and not be exposed to ferocious hits like he would in the NFL. Of course, basketball was my first sports love, so I love the college game the best and wish the NBA would drop its silly age requirement to let guys who are talented and developed enough for NBA teams to draft them not be forced to pretend to be college student-athletes for a year. Of course, the NCAA tourney looks pretty wide-open with all of the parity this year and the one-and-done heavy teams do not enjoy much advantage over teams like Butler or Kansas, so it should be an exciting one to watch.
Anyway, a big issue in T&F is that the union is fairly new and thus lacks much clout. Another is that there is no league with singular leadership, so it is faced with negotiating with multiple organizations to gain concessions and that costs way more than their likely level of funding. I was thinking of the NFL/NFLPA (and MLB) issues when I read Robinson's column. The NFLPA has the unique issue of being liable to the players they represent, not just current but also past. There is significant liability they open themselves up to if they implicitly admit that not taking a harder line on steroids, hGH, and the rest could lead to health problems in later years, it would make them look negligent with respect to past players. Plus, big hits sell the game. You would think that a player in the prime of his career committing murder and then committing suicide in front of his team's leaders would finally get enough of the league/player leadership to find the will to address the real causes of these very real problems players, both past and present, are having and do more to protect their best interests. It is complicated and often puzzling to me.
I remember reading that bit by Magness and I found myself questioning why he would willingly work with a guy he was sure was dirty. Were I in that position, at the very least I would schedule vacation or call in sick on the days that Armstrong had scheduled to be there, even if it might mean lack of praise or even a reprimand from the people I report to. Yes, he ultimately made the right call when he was coaching the Cougs, but that seemed a remarkably easy decision to make. It is not the same as going along to get along, being part and parcel of the Nike machine that made significant contributions to building the smokescreen of lies around the Armstrong legend.
Tangentially, Rupp's 3000m AR means little to me beyond some obvious commentary on the choice to travel over to Europe to do it in a weekday meet rather than be part of (and his handlers presume would be lost within?) the wonderful spectacle that was the Millrose Games last Saturday. Maybe he did it clean, I cannot be too certain, though the other aspects of the record run are at least a little questionable and imply significant manipulation by those who are guiding Rupp.