I’ve been mulling this over for a while now…since everyone has piled on the beat-up on Lance Armstrong parade. But, I have to say it is kind of hard to just ignore since Lance Armstrong is a fellow Austinite and he has been a local hero as well as an international one.
What do we tell our kids when the people we put up on pedestals no longer deserve to be there? Here are three things I think are teaching moments.
1. No one is perfect. We expect perfection from those in the spotlight, but let’s face it, we are all human and we all make mistakes. What is important is that we face up to our errors in judgment and take personal responsibility. Although we all have our own suspicions for why Lance Armstrong decided to sit down with Oprah and spill his guts, the fact is, he did own up to it in his own way.
2. It’s not okay to lie. No matter who you are, or what the reason is, lying will always come back to haunt you. Lance Armstrong, Exhibit #1.
3. It’s not okay to cheat or break the rules. Clearly, Lance justified his performance-enhancing drug use by saying that everyone else was doing it and so it was the only way for him to compete or win. In sports and in the game of life, persistence and hard work is what pays off. Bending the rules or creating one’s own rules of the game deviate from living an ethically sound existence and can lead to serious consequences. And, perhaps the problem with professional sports is that we as a society place such a high value (and financial compensation) on winning, that elite athletes resort to doing anything to succeed. Again, cheating and rule breaking will come back to haunt you and Lance Armstrong (as well as many other sports heroes of late) are classic role models for what happens when one lacks a moral compass.
I do sincerely hope that Mr. Armstrong will get his life back on track. Besides his advocacy work for those fighting cancer at Livestrong, he has influenced an entire generation of kids and adults to get out there and ride their bikes and that’s a really great thing!
Ari Brown, MD
Austin, TX pediatrician, baby411.com, 411pediatrics.com