Once again during July, many millions of fans and followers were devoted to the three-week spectacle that is Le Tour. Beyond entertainment, this annually anticipated event reliably spotlights fitness, endurance, courage, skill, ingenuity, competition, cooperation, camaraderie, and more.
The animatedly rich commentary of Phil Liggett, Bob Roll, and others distill excitement and ever-changing fortunes in play. And along the way are sweeping views of Europe's bucolic landscape and historic architecture, as well as informative remarks on cultural significances, mixed with a continuous flow of anecdotes on cycling performance and previous accomplishments.
Then Tour de France Femmes advances the televised spectacle similarly, followed by Vuelta a España. Cycling enthusiasts are attuned to appreciate the exceptional. Even the sponsorships plastered over bicycles, support vehicles, roadside signage, cyclist jerseys, and other paraphernalia integrate as an accepted backdrop. Prime attention is focused on capturing remarkable efforts of endurance, strategy, teamwork, and speed.
Yet it was less than a decade ago that the exceptionalism was stained with the distortion of cheats. It took a comparable persistence of the sport's associations, sponsors, and government interventions to purge unacceptable behaviors. For nations now dealing with analogous behaviors of pseudo-populists defrauding voters, the challenges will be at least as great.
Perhaps "Le Tour nouveau" and similar can help inspire the commitments and courage required to purge the outrageous from public life.