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"Armstrong Revered as 'Sympathique' American" NY Times(25 posts)

"Armstrong Revered as 'Sympathique' American" NY Timesspyderman
Jul 22, 2002 11:30 PM
Cool last name, no wonder he's covering TDF...


PARIS, July 22 — The excited fans who line the route of the Tour de France can give the wrong impression: not all the French care about the world's most prestigious bicycle race. Yet, even many of those indifferent to the sight of wiry men peddling furiously seem to have time for Lance Armstrong, the three-time Tour champion who is now well placed for a fourth successive victory at the finish line in Paris on Sunday.

For some, his key quality is that he is, as the French say, "un gentleman." By that, they mean that Armstrong, a 30-year-old Texan, responds with appropriate modesty to victory, giving credit to his fellow riders on the United States Postal Service team and praising even his toughest competitors. After stretching his lead to 4 minutes 21 seconds during Sunday's 14th stage up Mont Ventoux, for instance, he still allowed for the possibility of defeat. Today is a rest day, and the race resumes Tuesday.

No less important, after each stage Armstrong gives his interviews to French television in fluent French, which he learned while living in southern France (he now lives across the Spanish border in Gerona). That goes over well here, not least among French fans who have tired of hearing international sports stars addressing French crowds in English.

"He makes an effort to speak French and that is very appreciated," said Franck Salmon, 42, who has the television in his Paris bar tuned to the Tour de France on race days. "He is a good communicator, he is sympathique, he is a well-loved champion."

Then there are those who admire Armstrong as an athlete who triumphed over adversity. In the late 1990's, he conquered cancer, returned to cycling and promptly dominated the Tour. "I'm a cancer survivor and he is an inspiration," said a middle-aged woman who refused to give her name. Indeed, the French-language edition of Armstrong's memoir, "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life" (Putnam, 2000), has sold 55,000 copies since its publication here two years ago.

Of course, the acclaim is not universal. Some people suspect that many cyclists, including Armstrong, use performance-enhancing drugs; some fans along the route have heckled Armstrong, accusing him of drug use.

What is not an issue, however, is that Armstrong is American.

Relations between France and the United States have their constant ups and downs, and in recent months they have been in a trough, with many French unhappy with the Bush administration's unilateral approach to international affairs and some Americans seeing signs of French anti-Semitism in attacks on Jewish targets by gangs of Arab immigrant youths.

No one here, however, seems to resent Armstrong's nationality. "I don't mind at all if he is the favorite or if he wins," said Mathieu Girat, 29, a Paris-based business consultant. "He's a nice guy; he even apologizes when he overtakes people. He may come from the same state as Bush, but he sure gives a better image of the United States than Bush, which isn't difficult."

A few Stars and Stripes may be visible on the race route, but when Armstrong wins a stage, as he did last Thursday and Friday, the French crowds cheer him on as if he were their own.

"I don't think it bothers the French," Hugo Dewasnes, 26, who works in a theater in Valenciennes in northern France, said of Armstrong's nationality. "In modern cycling, there are international teams paid for by sponsors. Each team has riders of various nationalities. There's always a bit of French chauvinism as, say, when Richard Virenque won Sunday's stage, but most people who watch are looking at a team."

Laurent Munnich, 46, a media relations specialist who in 1995 created the first Web site providing live coverage of the Tour, agreed.

"There are some sports, like soccer, that stimulate chauvini
The problem with the New York Times, is ...ohmk1
Jul 23, 2002 4:31 AM
The problem with the New York Times, is that they always seem to have a political agenda in their articles-even sports articles! Check out the quote by the
Pairs based business consultant-"he sure gives a better image of the United States than Bush, which isn't difficult." Very uncalled for, and very New York Times.
F' the New York Times.
I dont see how that is uncalled forishmael
Jul 23, 2002 5:11 AM
Whats wrong with bring up GW? And whats wrong with comparing him to Armstrong? Both are ambasadors of America, GW happends to be arrogant and full of bluster and Armstong is the opposite. It's personality thats the issue. I like Armstrong more also, who wouldnt. Generally they liked Clinton too.
Jul 23, 2002 5:17 AM
If they liked Clinton so much...perhaps they could elect him their president. Besides, the French need America...they never know when the Germans will overrun them again.
Problem With the Frenchjromack
Jul 23, 2002 8:52 AM
They had to quit shooting off fireworks at Euro-Disney, seems every night they did that at least 20-30 Frenchmen would hear them and surrender.
You're way off base.GK
Jul 23, 2002 6:40 AM
I really hate to have politics of this sort on the board, but I'm compelled to defend the sensible point of view that the NYTIMES is no friend of the Administration leading this country.

Lance and W are two different animals.

Lance gets to win an athletic competition, and is loved because of it. W gets to lead a war against global terrorism that threatens to undermine the world's western democracies. You know...freedom, liberty, and all that. It's not just America they hate. We're just at the top of the list.

To compare the jobs Lance and W do as "ambassadors" for US is folly.

Methinks the French wouldn't be so contrarian had the bad guys taken out the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. Have so many people already forgotten the pain, fear, and anger watching the WTC collapse on 9/11?
youre missing the point, this isnt a political discussionishmael
Jul 23, 2002 7:42 AM
the french arent against W's politics, this has nothing to do with politics or terrorism, youre the only one bringing it up. The article is about personalities,"sympathique" means "nice", and the rest of the article is about Armstrong's humility and being a gentleman. Both Armstrong and W are personalities that represent America and in that way they are ambassadors, I dont see that as folly. The French it seems (and I and many others) feel that W's personality is far from as gentlemanly as Armstrongs. Also, Armstrong isnt loved for winning, he's loved for his respect for other competitors and the French. Bringing up 9/11 is rediculous, are we supposed to think W is a gentleman because he is commander and chief.
Perhaps "W" is a threat as wellWalter
Jul 23, 2002 7:55 AM
Didn't Ridge just raise the possibility of using the military in domestic law enforcement?

Alright no more politics from me!
you're not way off baseweiwentg
Jul 23, 2002 7:12 AM
some Americans (ie those in the media, government) feel free to criticize other countries' leadership - which is actually fine with me, if its done correctly. but then their leadership gets criticized, and some of them fly into a righteous fury ... which I think is hypocritical.
Jul 23, 2002 8:03 AM
I miss understood you for awhile and went on a tirade, but I found the word "not" in your heading so I guess we must somewhat see eye to eye. But I dont fully understand you.

The guy above is jumping on the "united we stand" war footing when it's inapropriate. Talking about blowing up the Eifel Tower and then seeing what they think is a dumb thing to say, especially because it is totally unrelated. I'm not bringing up 9/11 again.
Jul 23, 2002 8:41 AM
If I had just stated first...

"To compare Lance and W as 'ambassadors' is folly" then maybe the point would have been made without controversy. I'm not looking to pick a fight here, but I am compelled to rebut, or at least counter, what I see as a dumb assertion, cloaked in the legitimacy, and advanced as fact.

Lance can choose to win over the French public if he wants. The President of the United States has more important things to do. So why does comparing the two as "ambassadors" matter except as an excuse for the NY Times to take another dig at W? It makes me think that a funny thing happened to this reporter between J School and his job at the Times.

To compare the two as "ambassadors" of America not only misses the point, but to even give it legitimacy in NY Times ink is a sign of something more nefarious. The ORIGINAL point that I was echoing -- that the NY Times doesn't pass up a chance to dig at the current POTUS, however inappropriate -- stands. YOu can disagree with it. But don't attack me. I'm not attacking you.

If you think I'm way off base, then take the sentence back and substitute the nouns with names like Jalabert, Jospin (or whomever is running France now). Those guys don't give two wheels of brie what we Americans think of their roles as "ambassadors" of France. So why bother even bringing it up?

Not sorry for bringing up 9/11. It's what's driving the European vox populi that America led by W is a cowboy ad nauseum. blah blah blah. These people ignore the point that the Islamofascists have UK, France, and Germany at 2, 3, and 4 on the GC of "which infidels do we want to destroy after the US."

Jul 23, 2002 10:56 AM
The writer is passing on typical French viewpoints on possibly the two most prominent American figures in their country. Of these two ambassadors of the US they dont like W over there and they like Armstrong, its understandable and newsworthy.
Why do they like who they like? Armstrong goes out of his way to be a gentleman and W doesnt. It wouldnt even be a streach to say more like Armstrong's personality than W's even in the US. As you say, W doesnt go out of his way to likeable, maybe he should, thats politics.
my pointweiwentg
Jul 24, 2002 2:22 AM
is, I suppose, on a bit of a tangent. I was trying to say that, there seem to be a lot of Americans who blow up when someone criticizes their leaders (the leaders must hold opposing political viewpoints for this to work). that's normal; lots of humans do that. the problem is that it's slightly hypocritical; there are quite a few Americans who aren't slow to criticize the leaders of other countries. that in itself is no big deal to me (although Asians generally tend to refrain from that sort of thing, at least in the open). but you put the two together and there is a bit of a problem.
this is more properly a topic for the non-cycling discussions board.
The problem with conspiracy minded conservatives, is ...ctisevn
Jul 23, 2002 9:24 AM
they see any negative commentary, even a direct quote in this case, as a "liberal conspiracy in the press". its a quote from a French citizen you tool. I doubt he was prompted to say it by anything other than his view of the world. unless of course the "conspiracy" you seem to fear is a global one. stop whining and ride your bike.
Jul 23, 2002 9:47 AM
You're the one that's whining about concspiracies. A political agenda is a fact that an editor of the Times would gladly admit to.
So kindly stop your whining, and go ride a tool.
The problem with people assuming I'm a conservative...GK
Jul 23, 2002 10:46 AM
is that you're making a risky assumption.

My point is that if this no-name French cycling fan had said, "Lance and GW are friends from Texas and are great ambassadors for America." then the NY Times wouldn't have run it. It's hardly news worthy (or feature-worthy in this case) in the first place.

It's stuff like this that undermines the NY Times in the minds of people who want an impartial press.

And while we're at it, who called whom the name?
The problem with people assuming I'm a conservative...ishmael
Jul 23, 2002 11:14 AM
True,they probably wouldnt have run it if the fan had said "lance and W are friends from texas and great ambassdors for America" the fact that a local cycling fan from that country knows enough not to like him is news worthy I think. Most cycling fans in the US dont even know who the president of France is let alone not like him.
The real point is...Matno
Jul 23, 2002 9:28 AM
...that the French (and the rest of Europe) are so amazingly biased by their media (which almost makes ours seem conservative by comparison). I remember living in Europe when the first Bush had just been elected. The people there were still in shock that Michael Dukakis lost the election. Even more disappointing to them was that Jesse Jackson didn't make it as the democratic nominee! I'm sure they still think he (JJ) is a great guy over there. How blind can an entire continent be?! (Answer: VERY blind).

As for Lance being an ambassador to France, what's the point? The less of their negative influence that makes it here, the better.

Just out of curiousity, are French cyclists any less feminine than the French "male" population at large? I've been to France several times, and have yet to meet a man. (Their women, on the other hand, are quite something). My friends who have lived in France for extended periods agree with me. What's up with that? To paraphrase Alan Sherman: "What else can you expect from a [people] in silk stockings and pink satin pants?"
Jul 23, 2002 9:43 AM
Just out of curiousity, are French cyclists any less feminine than the French "male" population at large?

and you would appear to wonder why the French are a bit unreceptive towards some americans. it is because of you. please sir, refrain from travelling any further as I fear travelling in your wake.
The real point is...ishmael
Jul 23, 2002 10:33 AM
what you concider feminine most people I know concider refreshing. Ive never seen American men touch each other except when patting on the ass or in some other macho display. is this a good thing? I'm also glad they have the balls to wear some color in their socks. Or maybe it's the freedom to wear colored socks without the macho patrol around every corner asessing theyre masculinity. Youre the blind one, not the whole continent of europe. you cant understand others, stay at home and dont embarress us.
Oops. Looks like I hit a gay nerve...Matno
Jul 23, 2002 10:49 AM
no comment necessary. Refreshing, my eye...
some things which are not appropriate in your cultureweiwentg
Jul 24, 2002 2:28 AM
might be appropriate in others. perhaps a bit of open-mindedness is in order, wouldn't you say?
regarding your comment on European media. to many Europeans and a lot of Americans, it is the American media which is biased. after all, large corporations run the media ... and it is in their interest to maintain the status quo.
this is, of course, more properly a topic for another board.
Of course you're right.Matno
Jul 24, 2002 6:42 AM
The American media is terribly biased. Unfortunately, it's biased in the same direction as the European media: far LEFT. The only real difference is that the European population at large seems to agree with their media most of the time, whereas in America, we are still mostly conservative in spite of the media. For example, Americans still overwhelmingly believe in God (albeit in different "configurations"), while very few Europeans do any more). What my fear is, is that as America becomes progressively more ignorant (due to crummy public education, easier standardized testing to make students feel good, and lack of parental involvement) we will also fall prey to the influence of biased media. I recently saw the results of a poll comparing public opinion with the opinions of journalists. Scary results. For example, 43% of Americans support abortion compared to 87% of American journalists. (My numbers may be slightly off, but they're close). There were several other major issues listed with similar disparities. Is that an objective media? I don't think so.
The real point is...PMC
Jul 23, 2002 12:53 PM
I love this post!!! If I sent a copy to my wife, she would swear I wrote it.

Good Job Sir
spell/grammar checkTomS
Jul 23, 2002 7:19 AM
Geez, you'd think the ny times editor would've made sure they used the word "pedaling" instead of "peddling". I mean, the tour guys all have ads on their jerseys, but they're not actually selling things as they ride. "peddling furiously", hehe...

ped·dle Pronunciation Key (pdl)
v. ped·dled, ped·dling, ped·dles
v. tr.
1. a.To travel about selling (wares): peddling goods from door to door.
b. To engage in the illicit sale of (narcotics).
2. Informal. To seek to disseminate; give out: peddling lies.

v. ped·aled, or ped·alled ped·al·ing, or ped·al·ling ped·als or ped·als
v. intr.
1. To use or operate a pedal or pedals.
2. To ride a bicycle.