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Thursday, 28 February 2013

Lance Armstrong Reflection

         What can I say. Yes, I own a pair of LiveStrong track pants and a famous yellow shirt. Once I derived some sort of empowerment from wearing them while in the gym or walking through a mall. Last year when traveling to New York the only two things I put on my wall were a picture of my family and a small poster of Lance Armstrong riding his bike uphill. This poster contained a very powerful quote which reminded me of the importance of hard work and dedication.            
          Now, the poster is gone and  there is a hole in my heart. I look around before putting on my LiveStrong pants, and I even refrained from buying a new pair of training shoes just because they were yellow and black. I once was an avid believer of making the impossible possible through such an heroic sport figure. I still remember walking into a Pharmacy in East Hampton, NY and seeing the front page of The NY Times with the words, “Cheater” written across the top of a focused cyclist's face.
            Hold on.....I need a minute.......
            Fortunately, moments like these pass quickly. Having watched The Passionate Eye CBC documentary, the Oprah interview and read numerous articles all about Armstrong, I question what we can learn from such a disastrous ending to such a once revered survivor, athlete and role model.
            Today, I want to write about what we can learn from the fall of Lance. I want you to understand that people are not perfect. That is true even when picking role models! The first of many things we can learn from Lance Armstrong is how powerful sport can become. In North America, we hold sport to something greater, something bigger than ourselves, something which is celebrated, monetized and followed from every end of the world. This is a problem. Ya, I am the first to tell you I love sports. I love  playing sports, watching sports, etc.. I enjoy being a part of something greater than myself. However, from situations like this, we need to take one giant step back and evaluate the systemic issues surrounding certain sports and sport organizations both locally and internationally.
            The second thing we can learn from the ‘strong fall’ is how naive we can be. I was a believer, if you are reading this chances are you were a believer too. Every cancer survivor was probably a believer and we can now see how easy it is to fall into a hole of lies, deception and imperfection. We need to empower ourselves from within and know deep down inside of us who we really are. Our motivations and passions must come from within and not be attached to extrinsic fallabilities.
            The third thing we can learn from Lance Armstrong is just how powerful a ‘win at all costs’ attitude can become. We can see how easy it is to trap our bodies into a mindset of winning and succeeding. Through this, we can lose touch with reality and morality. We can become so tangled in our web of thoughts that we can justify almost anything, regardless of how hard the fall could be when reality sinks in. That, folks, is a very powerful realization that Lance is now thinking about everyday. As former NFL Super Bowl winning coach, Tony Dungy, once wrote in his book, The Mentor Leader, “What lies at the bottom of your well will eventually come up in the bucket”. Lance filled his well with lies and the bucket finally came up full of them. Learn from that!
            A fourth thing which can be learned from Lance Armstrong is how fast technology and science is changing. Until 2005 Lance and his team of deceivers were ahead of the game on blood doping. They changed the game of cheating for everyone. They believed that as long as they played a chess game with science and thought two steps ahead, they were  untouchable. For some time, they were able to do just that, but science and technology caught up to them. We now know that you can cheat science.....temporarily! Humans are not perfect, science is not perfect but it will catch up to you!
            A final thing we are about to learn from Lance Armstrong is pending. We have yet to discover how the world's most controversial man will ever bounce back from such a drop off. We may not learn this for months or years down the road....but we will learn it. We will someday see if he takes his tower of guilt and lies and actually does something productive with his time here on earth. If he can somehow do that, I will be very impressed.
             In conclusion, we need to reflect and educate ourselves on who, why and how we chose our role models. We need to empower ourselves to be great athletes, learners and workers in a moral society. We must stay true to our principles when putting our trust in those around us who continually improve who we are as individuals. We need to fill our wells with great things, not lies and deception. For that lesson, we can thank Lance Armstrong.

Ryan Fahey
B.A Human Kinetics
CPTN Canada
Canfitpro FIS, PTS

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