When someone clued Lance Armstrong about comments made by the host of a sports call-in show, he didn't like what he heard. His reaction on Twitter:
“Disgusting, ignorant, foolish. What a complete f-ing idiot.”
The “f-ing idiot” was Tony Kornheiser, long-time sports commentator who had already been suspended from ESPN once this year for commenting on an outfit worn by a female co-anchor.
What drew Armstrong's anger was Kornheiser's comments about how motorists should hit bicyclists with their cars. He was running-off at the mouth about Washington DC's plans to put bike lanes on Pennsylvania Avenue. You can listen to the segment at CraigRutledge on YouTube.com.
Armstrong contacted Kornheiser, who immediately apologized and agreed to put him on the show on Friday. You can listen to Friday's show with Armstrong at ESPN980.
In the transcript from Sporting News blog:
Armstrong: … I'm going to continue to pay attention, as are the millions of people that you've now encouraged to watch you closely. They're going to all pay attention to make sure that we don't get singled out again. But absolutely.
We had a pleasant conversation yesterday and I heard in your voice that you did not mean this, obviously.
Kornheiser: Oh these rants are over. Believe me. This is over.
Armstrong: It was a vindictive, cruel thing, and thank goodness. But you have listeners who listen to you and say, 'well Tony said it's cool, so it must be cool.' I have people who follow my career that if I say 'jump' they say 'how high?' That's a little scary, but that's the reality of the world that we live in today.
We can all just get along. We'll be on bikes and we'll move as far to the right as we can and if the cars just give us a little space, you know what, you're going to still get home. You're going to still get to the red light at the same time. It's all good.
Meanwhile, back on the Twitter account Armstrong concluded:
“Had a decent chat w/ Tony Kornheiser who I feel is genuinely sorry for his comments re: us cyclists. Thanks for all y'alls support. … But this goes right 2 the core issue of relations between cars and bikes. Nobody is right or wrong here and both here 2 stay.
“Of course bike-centric infrastructure helps but not always reality. Encourage ur elected officials to fund these projects. 1 world 2 wheels.”
Anti Kornheiser club
Meanwhile, Andy Clarke at the League of American Bicyclists suggests in a well written piece at their blog that getting Armstrong on the show was nothing more than a boost to ratings.
“As plenty of people have said, if he gets two weeks off the air for criticizing a colleague’s fashion sense, surely exhorting people to potentially kill cyclists ought to generate some kind of meaningful punishment. More meaningful than getting to chat with one of the greatest sports personalities on the planet.”
If you're still made at Kornheiser, you can join the Facebook “Fire Tony Kornheiser, Cyclist Hater” Club.
We all appreciate Armstrong's efforts in this regard, as it might mean something more for people to hear that message from an iconic hero, rather than just another fuzzy-faced bike advocate like myself or thousands of others.
That doesn't mean we should stop speaking out, but just thank Armstrong for getting into the act too in a big way.
David Zabriskie on Team Garmin is another cyclist publically interested in bicycle advocacy. The multiple national road time trial champion and former Tour de France leader launched a share the road group — Yield to Life — a couple of years ago.