"One cherished Tour tradition is the fans' habit of covering the roads with hand-painted exhortations to their heroes. This year four black and yellow Livestrong vans are travelling ahead of the race, selling the wristbands and promoting the charity while neatly stencilling the course, a kilometre at a time, with messages from Armstrong's supporters: "Get a goal and reach further", "Enjoy living not just life", "It's about hope, not the bike".
Ever since I went to a Celtics game (my one and only basketball game, I might add) and witnessed the painful commercialization of sport (music playing all the time, new advertisements emblazoned all over the court and walls and hoarding every fifteen seconds, idiotic automated "let's make some noise" announcements, playboy bunnies shooting t-shirts out of handheld air cannons into the crowd, and an interruption every two or three minutes for some inane showpiece on the court (trampolining, middle school kid shoots a free throw for a bag of Doritos), I've been terrified that this kind of nonsense is going to overflow into the rest of the world and ruin its fine sporting traditions. Apparently it's already happening at football matches in the UK, and now, apparently, the soul of the Tour de France (or what is left of it, at least) is all but sucked dry.
When the US men's soccer team (or Team USA! USA! USA!) finally and inevitably win the World Cup, I will pack up my few worldly possessions and head for the hills. I couldn't live in a world like that.