Another day. Another scandal. Another high-profile celebrity sits on Oprah’s couch to express contrition and to try to resuscitate his image. Today it’s Lance Armstrong, but tomorrow it will be someone else, which is why I believe it’s time to say enough. No more free passes for our children’s role models.
I don’t know Lance Armstrong personally, but apparently nobody else really does either. What I did know was the same constructed fairy tale that he sold all of us: the inspirational story of a young cyclist who nearly died from cancer and was resurrected through the miracles of modern medicine and his own indomitable spirit. He was the dedicated, focused, gifted and meticulous athlete who pushed himself beyond all barriers of pain to achieve an unprecedented seven Tour de France victories.
But now the truth is finally coming out, and the magical tale has lost its luster—it turns out that his critics were right all along. Lance Armstrong was actually a doper; a cheat who betrayed his sport, his fans, and the cancer survivors who looked to him as a modern-day superman.
So recently he sat with Oprah to give his first on-the-record confession. But do we need to listen to words carefully constructed by crisis PR experts and highly paid lawyers? Enough is enough. Lance Armstrong should be held fully accountable and we shouldn’t be so quick to forgive the horrible offenses that he has committed. He can only look skyward for true forgiveness.
We owe it to today’s youth to not so quickly forgive Lance Armstrong and to not just sweep this whole sordid saga under the rug and let him move on with his life. Americans are remarkably forgiving and, yes, everyone makes mistakes, but this is something altogether different. A lie of this magnitude cannot be permitted to be trivialized.
Lance is just the last in a string of public figures to let us all down and then be given a free pass. Bill Clinton violated one of the 10 Commandments inside the Oval Office and then lied under oath to the public about it; however today he has been redeemed and is again revered by the Democratic Party. Tiger Woods admitted to a series of infidelities and, while his golf name never returned to the same stratospheric levels, he has now largely moved on.
If we give Lance Armstrong a pass then the real message we send our children is that you can make hundreds of millions of dollars in sponsorships and achieve world-wide fame by cheating—you just have to make sure that you don’t get caught or else you might be embarrassed.