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Question of perspective.... heros in their own countries....(10 posts)

Question of perspective.... heros in their own countries....funknuggets
Feb 3, 2004 7:21 AM
Can someone answer this for me...and maybe there is no definitive answer. It is quite clear that cycling is but an afterthought in the US. If it weren't for the fact that we have had two studs in the TdF in the recent years, it wouldn't even register. But now, with the US Media blitz, Lance has come to the relative forefront of media attention, but is it because of the cancer? Would he have been sportsman of the year without the cancer spin? I guess Im just really really curious as to how popular Zabel or Ullrich is in Germany. Are they more famous in Germany than Lance in the US? What about Cipo in Italy, or Museuw in Belgium, or Big Mig in Spain, Jaja in France... et cetera.

Im just really curious to see how these cycling studs are viewed and how mainstream they are considered in their respective homelands. It seems like Cipo drives a circus, but is that only at cycling events?

Chris
Not entirely,TJeanloz
Feb 3, 2004 7:33 AM
We do have a Lance-like example, historically, in Greg LeMond, who was also Sportsman of the Year (1989). Armstrong would certainly be famous in the US for winning multiple Tours, but not nearly on the same level without the cancer aspect. The cancer really broadened his heroic appeal.

In places where cycling plays a larger role in the national consciousness, their stars are bigger. Cipo is probably a bigger star in Italy than Armstrong is in the US. Ullrich and Zabel, conversely, are popular in Germany, but not really moreso than Armstrong is in the US. At the same time, Armstrong is probably a better-known icon in France and Italy than he is in the United States. It has more to do with the role cycling plays in the culture than the palmares of the individual heros.
Lemond on SIrollo tommassi
Feb 3, 2004 9:55 AM
Remember the caterwauling from SI subscribers when Greg was on the cover? Oh my god you'd think it was the end of the world (or Pete Rose getting inducted to the Hall of Fame, whichever comes first). The letters to the editor after that were of utter outrage, people cancelling their subscriptions left and right.

I agree that it has to do with the role cycling plays in the culture that determines notoriety. I hope someday, though, that our sport is admired for its essentials and not for its oddities (Lance's tumors, Tyler's collarbone, pack stacks in sprint finishes, etc.)
Excellent use of the word 'caterwauling' :-) (nm)innergel
Feb 3, 2004 11:13 AM
Let me rephrase my question....funknuggets
Feb 3, 2004 11:13 AM
Using Cipo as an example. If he is the most popular cyclist in Italy, would he be the Italian equivalent of say... Micheal Jordan... or Muhammed Ali? Give me something to compare to. And the same goes for the other countries... in France or Germany... the top world class cyclist would be viewed about the same as.... (fill in the blank)... in the US. Im just trying to get a perspective, cause for the most part... I would think that George, Tyler and Lance could quite possibly walk down most streets and not really even get noticed. I just didnt know if that was the case with famous cyclists elsewhere...

Chris
Let me rephrase my question....brad nicholson
Feb 3, 2004 11:21 AM
living in germany i can say that while overall the cycling stars have more coverage than cycling in the us in general they are not "more popular" it is just that sports coverage here is more complete in a lot of ways oweing to the vast diversity of people and games they play in europe. cyclists are famous but not anywhere near as famous as footballers...of course sailing, rugby, etc all get good coverage here as well...a lot of my german friends don't like ullrich because he is a whining loser...they prefer lance and they say he is more german than ullrich. i think it is safe to say that cyclists, top team leaders, are as popular as baseball stars at least but not in the stratospheric heights that football and basketball players inhabit with soccer players.
Hmmm,TJeanloz
Feb 3, 2004 1:01 PM
I'd say maybe akin to Eric Lindros? Roger Clemens? Greg Norman?

Even where pro cycling is "popular", it isn't the most popular sport. Cycling stars are well known, but they aren't Michael Jordan-types. Cipo, in Italy, is one major public face of a major sport (though Pantani was more popular at his height), but he isn't elevated to the "most popular athlete in the country" status.
Soccerpmf1
Feb 3, 2004 1:51 PM
Soccer stars are much much bigger deals in Europe than cyclists. Even in Italy.
David Beckham is the world's most recognized athleterussw19
Feb 3, 2004 4:38 PM
Even ahead of Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan. Soccer star Renaldo is 2nd on the list and Pele is still very high up on the list.

Russ
Absolutely. Definitely one of the top three midfieldersdjg
Feb 4, 2004 7:04 AM
on his team. And a huge public figure.