I want to see Captain America clock Lance Armstrong. I want to see the original
Avenger drop the shield and give Lance a classic roundhouse; the kind that sends the
senior cyclist spinning while a cartoon star appears containing the word “Ka-Pow!”
Captain America makes me feel good. Steve Rogers was a small, weak young man
until an experimental serum transformed him into the epitome of physical
perfection. Lance got a coach and spent countless hours systematically pushing his
physical limits in order to dominate the cycling world; a sport in which 25-40% of the
competitors are routinely disqualified for using performance enhancing substances. To
date, Lance has not been convicted of doping. This fact polarizes us into two camps;
one where we want to believe he raced clean and idolize him, and another where we
want to know how he has kept such a dirty secret hidden for so long.
Regardless of the truth, schadenfreude wants Lance to test positive to let US off the
hook. If he’s clean, then we have the potential to overcome the lethargy of
chemotherapy, the loss of hair, appetite, and some rather personal pieces of anatomy to
achieve greatness. That is a lot of responsibility, and more importantly, a lot of work.
Steve Rogers on the other hand never had any such potential. Someone else made
Rogers into Captain America with drugs. There was no gym time, no effort, no sacrifice
on his part, just get an injection and get muscles. He allows me to sit on the couch and
eat Cheetos, safe and secure in the knowledge that IF I ever got my hands on that super
solution then I would be so much bigger, stronger, and cooler.
This isn’t even a new story. How many movies have been made from comic books
involving superhuman powers? And even the heroes who don’t have super powers,
radioactive accidents, or mutations, how many have buckets of money, alien tech, or
special training? What’s the underlying message; Great things are possible, but YOU
don’t have what it takes so you’re off the hook…?
What a complete load of drivel.
The truth is we don’t WANT to do great things. We want an excuse to sit on the couch
and eat bonbons. We are not immortal. I don’t even look good in blue spandex. (Don’t
ask how I know that.) All of the science I know tells me that body transformation takes
effort. And experience tells me that anyone who says otherwise is selling something.
Authors use, radiation accidents, alien technology, and secret military training as literary
devices to give heroes power because it is quick and keeps the story moving. In the
books and movies whenever any actual WORK takes place, it gets shortened to a
montage so the world can be saved in 48 minutes plus commercials.
If I follow Lance’s example (doping or not), I’ll have to actually leave my excuses on the
couch. I’ll have to put down my sippy-cup, man-up, make a plan, then stick to it. I’ll have
to actually DO something rather than waiting for Captain America. Real effort, real work,
and the resulting real transformation take real time, and there won’t be any montage with
catchy music. I’ll have to take responsibility for my own physical condition rather than
waiting for someone else to hand me a magic pill.
For that infuriating reality check, I want to see Steve Rogers/Captain America hit the
super villain who has stolen my ability to sit ala Al Bundy, watching movies made from
graphic novels, and still revel in my physical superiority. But Captain America is
fictitious, and Lance is not to blame for my excuses. The responsibility for my body has
always been on my shoulders. It is a weight no superhero can lift, though many have
tried. With that in mind, I choose to work toward becoming the hero of my own story
rather than a random citizen in need of rescue. How about you?