I don't watch cycling outside of the Olympics, so I was somewhat confused about the whole Contador-passes-Schleck thing. First I was confused because Rich Irvine explained it to me as Contador "attacked" Schleck and I thought it was another head butt incident. But even when I got the details I had to wonder what the deal was.
Before the cycling folks get yelling, I understand that there are unwritten rules of sportsmanship in the sport and that there are certainly examples you can point out in sports that I follow. But at some point it's two guys on bikes, and when one guy's bike breaks, the other sails past thinking "Fuck I'm glad my bike held together. C'mon baby hold together".
There's sportsmanship and then there's winning; losers complain about sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is a layer we place over sport to make it less ruthless. Yet the rules are unwritten because who in their right mind would ever enforce them?
And at certain points in the game, whatever game it is, sportsmanship is forgotten. While a team might kick the ball out to allow an injured opponent time to be attended to, late in the game suddenly it's an opponent that's one man down.
The problem with unwritten rules is that they are unwritten. No one can check if you really broke them or not (usually). After all we all have differing ideas about how we should get along in life, why think that we will all have the same ideas about sportsmanship.
For example, I believe that if you're winning by a substantial and unlikely to be overtaken margin that you "pull your starters" and "run the clock". Others say that's for pussies and you should "keep the foot on the throat".
But the more of these unwritten rules you have the sillier a sport becomes. Take away too much of the randomness provided by the laws of physics and you may as well hold a 100m footrace instead.
And now, deep breaths cyclists, the floor is yours.