The verdict is in: Lance Armstrong will be officially stripped of his seven titles in the Tour de France after he ceased contesting an official investigation into allegations of steroid use. This comes a month after the NCAA imposed sanctions on the Penn State football program including voiding 112 official victories. Cases of this sort with a lower profile are growing more common as well. It now seems to be a rule that if an athlete does something that people severely dislike, he’ll be punished by rewriting his record.
Does this make sense? Obviously not. Record books exist to tell the truth. Penn State did win those football games. Lance Armstrong did complete the Tour de France in the shortest amount of time during those seven years. The record books should report what actually happened, not what we wish had happened. In that sense, these instances of rewriting are examples of a disturbing trend.
History of all sorts should be truthful. Much of our history these days is constantly rewritten to fit with prevailing sentiments. Truth is now fungible. There’s no virtue in actually telling it like it is. Instead the facts get adjusted to meet the emotional desires of the times. Does anyone doubt that this is happening in many areas far beyond sports? Does anyone question that history books now contain a fair amount of fiction and half-truths put in to appease various interest groups? That museums and other historical gatekeepers are careful to bend historical truth a bit in certain situations?