Saturday, August 02, 2003

Tour de Rants (or Rants for Lance?)

The other day, I was offering congratulations on this site to Lance Armstrong on winning the Tour again, and I said that he had "done Plano and Austin...and America...very proud." Turns out that, in the words of Meat Loaf, two out of three ain't bad, because I read in the paper today that Lance actually hates Plano.

His basic thing was that if you didn't wear the right designer clothes or play football, you didn't fit in over there at the time (I'm sure this still happens, but I've also taught many Planonians who thrived outside those parameters). But the last straw, evidently, was when the administration wouldn't let him miss school late in his senior year to go to Moscow for a prestigious pre-Olympic race of some sort. They said if he did, he'd have to make up all his missed work in less than a week or not be eligible to graduate. As the story goes, his mom got so mad that she pulled him out of PISD and he graduated from a small private school that transferred all his credits. And when his would-have-been graduating class had its reunion, their most famous almost-alumnus wasn't invited. How ridiculous...

So...sorry, Lance, if you didn't want to be associated with Plano. My friend who grew up across the alley from you thought you were a really cool guy, for whatever that's worth. (And of course there's plenty of good things about Plano, including a great little college just down the street from your old neighborhood *grin*.) You can also take solace in the fact that none of those administrators who stood in your way have touched nearly as many lives as you have these last five years. So I will amend my previous statement to say that you've done Austin, and Texas, and America proud...and too bad the Plano thing didn't work out; I bet a lot of people there are still proud of you.

And maybe this serves as a cautionary tale to anyone who might be in a similar position as those administrators: When you have someone who's really, really good at what they do, try to work with them a bit. By that, I'm not saying to give anyone preferential treatment (especially athletes, because we've seen the fruit of that); I just mean treat each person as an individual instead of trying to squeeze everyone into a one-size-fits-all box or making the process more important than the person. The same thing happened to a student of mine once; he was turning into a pretty decent jazz saxophonist at the same time he was rewriting all his school's swimming records, but the director eventually ran him out of band just because he kept having conflicts with marching rehearsal to do his swimming training. It's too bad everyone couldn't have worked together for him, because it would seem to be a feather in all their caps if someone excels at multiple things.

A story like Lance's, which has had so many happy endings already, could have had another one...but I don't see Lance supporting any PISD cycling efforts, or kicking in for a district velodrome, anytime soon. Too bad...their loss.

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