Another day. Another scandal. Another high-profile celebrity headed to Oprah’s couch to express contrition and 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 Armstrong and apparently nobody else really did either. What I knew was the same cynically 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. 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. Armstrong was actually a doper, a cheat who betrayed his sport, his fans, the cancer survivors who looked to him as a modern-day superman. So recently he sat with Oprah to tape an interview, and if you cared to watch, you can judge for yourself the sincerity of his “confession.”
But I don’t need to need to see crocodile tears or listen to words carefully constructed by crisis PR experts. Enough is enough. 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 Armstrong, and not to just sweep this whole sordid saga under the rug and let him move on with his life. Americans are a remarkably forgiving society, and everyone makes mistakes–but this is something altogether different. A lie of this magnitude cannot be permitted to be trivialized.
Armstrong is just the last in a string of public figures who let us all down and then are given a free pass. Bill Clinton violated one of the 10 commandments inside the Oval Office and then lied under oath and to the public about it. Today, he has been redeemed and is revered by the Democratic Party. Tiger Woods admitted to a series of infidelities, and while his golf name has never returned to the same stratospheric levels, the public has largely moved on.
If we give 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 worldwide fame by cheating–you just have to make sure that you don’t get caught or you might be embarrassed.
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