For years, Lance Armstrong has been an American icon, as well as loved and hated around the world.
I, for one, was a huge fan. I read his books, studied his cycling methods, and for a few years, rode on a cycling team every weekend.
Similar to Lance, I rode for “Team In Training,” raising money for cancer research and, at the same time, experiencing a cycling event like none other (for me, anyway). I took part in a 100-mile race around Lake Tahoe. It was one of the great accomplishments of my life.
What has Lance Armstrong accomplished?
A seven-time Tour de France champion, he ruled the competitive cycling world for most of the 2000s. Lance Armstrong’s name was synonymous with cycling, and the Tour de France!
And now…after years of allegations and accusations, it appears he may have cheated after all. He may have lied to the world, including, and most importantly, young children that looked up to him, admired him, and wanted to grow up to be just like him.
So here I am trying to process what this means to me.
I’ve been raised and am a firm believer in playing fair, abiding by the rules, and especially, above all else, being truthful and maintaining the highest level of integrity imaginable.
Therefore, I should be outraged. I should curse his name to myself. He’s a fraud! A fake! A disgusting human being!
So why are those emotions not bubbling over like a volcano that has just erupted and begins to spew ash and molten lava everywhere?
Perhaps the answer is that in today’s society, athletes and many others cheat to get ahead. Yes, some land in jail, but most go on to fame and fortune – just like Lance. It’s not the fact that you’re cheating that’s on the minds of those offenders. It’s how to avoid getting caught. And let’s face it, of all the professional sports in existence today, cycling has to be among the most corrupt, if not the most corrupt in terms of athletes taking performance-enhancing drugs.
Contradict me if this statement is wrong…
To get to the top among today’s professional sports populations, you need to take performance-enhancing drugs just to compete at an equal level with everyone else. Failing to “dope-up” will cause you to be left behind, without even a miniscule chance of competing, let along climbing atop the victory stand.
I’ve come to grips with this. I get it. I don’t appreciate it, but I accept it.
That’s not to say he is. It just assumes he’s won his fame and fortune via unacceptable methods.
And he’s lied to us, again and again – and again!
Why are so many willing to look the other way with regard to this very despicable behavior?
Here’s the truth:
Lance has used his (illicit) fame and fortune for not just selfish reasons, but to help all of mankind. Yes, all of mankind. How many famous individuals can make that claim? Lance can.
Armstrong created the Livestrong foundation, and has personally helped raise an insane amount of money to help men, women and especially children stricken, as he was, with cancer. Yes, he has a private jet, a home in Aspen and another the size of a football field in Texas. But he also has a foundation like few others. He has poured his heart and soul into helping those in need.
He didn’t have to do that. He CHOSE to do that!
But let’s not forget that Lance Armstrong is a cheater and a liar.
And now the house is crumbling on him.
How, you might ask?
You know Nike, that great humanitarian organization? They pulled their sponsorship of him, though they made millions of dollars endorsing him. Nike is the same company that currently endorses Michael Vick. Who’s Michael Vick? The quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles football team. A criminal that engaged in corrupt and inhumane dog-fighting rings for sport and (illegal gambling) money. He went to jail to “pay for his crimes.” And now, Nike is paying him – and terminating their contract with Lance Armstrong.
As they say on ESPN, “COME ON, MAN!!!”
In a very brief statement, they stated…
“Due to the seemingly insurmountable evidence that Lance Armstrong participated in doping and misled Nike for more than a decade, it is with great sadness that we have terminated our contract with him,” Nike said.
What are they really saying in the statement above?
Lance Armstrong lied. He cheated. He did not kill or maim, or hurt anyone as Michael Vick did. He lied.
What they forgot to add is…
He saved countless lives through his foundation and his efforts to bring cancer research and care to light.
Let’s face it, other than the American Cancer Society and the Livestrong Foundation, how many other organizations come immediately to mind. Yes, they exist and yes, we appreciate them, but these two are household names.
Lance Armstrong is responsible for one of the two.
We don’t like liars and cheats…even if they are heroic.
But we are a very forgiving people. It doesn’t take much for us to look the other way.
How can Lance obtain immediate forgiveness?
Two simple words…
If he does this, America will almost certainly embrace him once again.
Where do I stand now that I’ve written this?
I think I’ve figured it out…
I am willing to forgive all that he’s done. I am willing to look past the lying, the cheating and his incredible wealth.
His actions save lives. His foundation is keeping children and adults alive. The Livestrong Foundation gives us hope.
So, Lance Armstrong, I have only this to say to you.
I don’t care if you apologize or not. I support you and will continue to do so.
And I can live with myself just fine for saying that!