As a sportswriter who has chronicled much of the past two decades, however, it strikes me as foolish nonsense. As Armstrong's recent admission shows, the words must be altered to -- if you can dream it, you can do it -- as long as you leave your ethics at the door and cheat your ass off and don't mind throwing your supporters under a bus.
That, now, is the sad, pathetic legacy of men such as Armstrong and Bonds. Once upon a time, they dreamed of doing wonderful things: Of hitting baseballs 500 miles; of speeding down the largest mountains; of being special. Then, however, they learned (as we all do) that we are bound by the confines of humanity. Within the rules and regulations, there is only so strong. There is only so fast. There is only so big. Hence, one can either accept his lot in life and put out the best possible effort, or he can cheat and lie and enjoy the temporary fruits while trying to avoid the inevitable plummet.
Do I think he should be allowed to race again? No. Lance Armstrong racing again is not truly an option anyway -- he's almost 42.
Just the same, I am thrilled that he has -- at long last -- begun to come clean. There are lessons to be learned here, beyond those pertaining to cycling. And day's end, when the cheering has stopped, there is something to be said for trying your best, even if your best doesn't result in triumph.
There is empowerment in knowing you gave your all. There is satisfaction in achieving your own PR. There is the sense of community and camaraderie that comes in the aftermath of a sporting event. Cold beers, casual conversation, sore muscles -- bliss.
Armstrong and Bonds forgot that long ago. For them, it was all -- and only --about winning. They got lost in a corrupt world of enhancers and boosters and had their heads turned by the fame and accolades and money.
Now, though, they are outcasts. They are the tombstones of long-ago dreams.
Jeff Pearlman is the author of "Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton." He blogs at jeffpearlman.com. Follow him on Twitter.
Wayne Norman: Like a convenience store robbery that goes wrong
Lance knows that a quick mea culpa is not enough -- otherwise, he would have admitted to doping long ago. Instead, he made a calculated gamble that he could preserve his reputation and brand by lying, defrauding corporate sponsors, impugning the authorities pursuing him and actively slandering and suing honest whistle-blowers who stood in his way.
That bet has not paid off.
Like a convenience store robbery that goes wrong and leads to a hostage-taking and a high-speed chase, Lance's doping is by far the least of his transgressions. A highly calculated confession about the doping still looks like Lance gambling to advance his interests. Former fans will need contrition and a sense that he genuinely regrets the gamble. Those he slandered and defrauded should demand even more.
Lance cannot get another chance as an athlete at this point. That would make a mockery of all sporting rules and their enforcement. When you've been that blatantly dishonest, it won't be easy to convince people to trust you again.
Wayne Norman is the Mike & Ruth Mackowski professor of ethics at Duke University.
John Eustice: Armstrong can make a deal and get leeway
What Lance has, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency wants, and Lance is not going to give it to them unless he gets his (athletic) life back. USADA knows that Lance stands at the nexus of two distinct cultures, two completely different mindsets: The ideals and dreams of Olympic sport and the harsh, ratings-driven business of the professional game.
They view this conquest of Lance as their great chance to have the Olympic vision triumph over the cynicism of the pros. But they need his cooperation to win.
Despite the admitting of pros into the Olympic Games, in truth, the two cultures do not mesh. Pro sports are businesses where talent, ratings and the subsequent cash flows from them, must be protected just as in any other entertainment business.
USADA needs to understand how the professional mentality has "infected" the Olympic movement, and Lance is the key. Was he protected by the International Cycling Union? Was the Tour de France involved? Did it go even higher that that?
USADA makes deals. If Lance can provide them with information on the underground system that fuels athletes worldwide, and explain, for example, how of the 6,000 drugs tests given at the London Games, only one came back positive, allowing him to participate in some triathlons seems a very small price to pay.
Cycling analyst John Eustice was one of the pioneer Americans to break into the world of European pro cycling. He co-founded and captained the first American team to race in the Tour of Italy, and is a two-time United States Professional Champion.
John Hoberman: Is it possible to acquire a conscience overnight?
The report that Lance Armstrong choked up during his apology to Livestrong Foundation employees earlier this week would seem to mark an abrupt departure from the cold, calculating and manipulative personality he has displayed throughout his celebrated athletic career.
Having closely followed the Armstrong saga as a doping researcher, I have come to doubt whether this is man is capable of genuine contrition. One can only imagine the apologetic telephone calls he has been making to the former teammates and other victims he persecuted, threatened, bullied and slandered over so many years.
Is it really possible to acquire a conscience overnight? Can a person who has long-demonstrated reckless self-assertion, a lack of empathy, coldheartedness, egocentricity, superficial charm and irresponsibility suddenly repent after months of hostile intransigence?