COLUMN: Perry Bergson — Jan. 21, 2013

Perry
Perry Bergson
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There are no real heroes.

There are people capable of great heroism, but at some level, we all have feet of clay.

An oddity of human nature is our ongoing search for heroes. We seem hard-wired to need greatness; with an acute understanding of our own weakness and failure, we continually scan the horizon for beacons of light.

But life is ultimately too gray for those shades of black and white.

Or yellow.

That, of course, is the colour of Livestrong bracelets sold to benefit cancer research and victims by a foundation formed by Lance Armstrong.

I guess we all know how that turned out.

In his televised sessions with Oprah last week, Armstrong finally confessed to what many of us cycling fans had suspected all along: The only way to win a race filled with dopers was to dope yourself.

He has always been a controversial figure in cycling circles, with his critics and defenders equally as certain that they were right.

As a longtime cyclist, I listened to and participated in many of those debates.

I came at it from an odd angle. I was fairly certain he was dirty but I wasn't angry or even that passionate about that. In my mind, he was guilty of the crime of arrogance, which I considered worse.

At least you can stop taking drugs.

They say you can't cure an egg-sucking dog; I'm not sure you can ever make a good person out of someone whose crushing arrogance displays a fundamental lack of character and a destructive self-importance.

I had always heard that he put himself above his teammates, which to this old backup goalie is inexcusable.

Former teammate Tyler Hamilton claims that Armstrong actually turned him in to drug authorities.

When people close to him started to dispute his claims of innocence, Armstrong was vicious in his attacks and threats. He was just not an honourable person.

Old habits died hard when he left cycling to return to triathlon.

Chrissie Wellington recently retired but she was one of the greatest triathletes ever. She was, and is, a fantastic person as well.

She was renowned for winning races and then staying to hand out finisher's medals to every person who came after. This was a commitment of hours by one of the best athletes in the world, after she had just finished her own race.

It made her a beloved figure.

Contrast that with Armstrong last April. After finishing seventh at a half-Ironman, he walked past his daughter at the finish line as she ran behind him with his medal yelling "Daddy."

Nice.

 

• • •

 

On Wednesday night I was in Halifax and was able to cover the Home Hardware CHL Top Prospects game.

It was an amazing treat for a hockey fan.

There is a massive press box high above the ice along one end of the rink. It was filled with radio, TV and newspaper reporters from across the country.

The little white piece of paper with the words Prince Albert Daily Herald typed on it seemed a little out of place. And while the journalists around me were a little curious if the game brought me across the country -- it was actually unrelated meetings -- they were welcoming.

Raiders fans can rest assured that their hockey club was well represented by Josh Morrissey and the region was made to look good by Beauval's Eric Roy. I was able to track both of the young men down after the game and it was clear they were both a little sad the experience was ending so quickly.

The game itself was a marvel. These kids skate, hit and fight; this is not your average all-star game.

And after seeing him in person, Nathan MacKinnon is the superstar that everyone is projecting him to be. He was dynamic every time he was on the ice, even though his team was shut out.

I had a couple of moments during the evening that tested my journalistic detachment. Just after I walked into the Metro Centre, a square-jawed fellow with a toque pulled low over his eyebrows followed me in. I'm sure my head almost did a 360 as I realized it was Mark Messier.

Instead of going over and thanking him for winning my hockey pool for me in the 1990 playoffs, I left him alone. I'm sure he gets stopped enough. I also chose not to thank Steve Yzerman for his role in Canada winning hockey gold at Salt Lake City in 2002.

The one guy I did chat with was Don Cherry. It was nice to share a couple of minutes with the man I've watched on TV for so many years.

You may not agree with everything he says, but if you question his love of the game or his patriotism, you're just being difficult.

The years are starting to catch up to him a bit -- as they do all of us -- but he still has a great passion for the game and is a charismatic guy.

Oh, and his clothes are even better in person. That man can dress.

 

Organizations: Metro Centre

Geographic location: Halifax, Canada, Salt Lake

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