October 11, 2017
Once upon a time, I lived for cycling. It was my passion, my reason for getting out of bed in the morning, what I lived and breathed for every day. I rode my bicycle every single day – many days 30-40 miles at a time. Naturally, my love of the sport lead me to watch the professionals. My hero was Lance Armstrong.
What a moving story he had. A cancer survivor, a killer-athlete, father, all around hero. I bought and read both of his books. I read his coach’s book. I followed all of his teammates, knew their names, their life stories. But, heroes fall, and they break our hearts. But, I admit, that Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace hit me particularly hard. I believed in him. I supported him. I defended him. I refused to believe that anyone could lie under oath, lie to the public, lie to his supporters, lie to his own family, and lie to me.
It was really tough to watch Stop At Nothing: The Lance Armstrong Story, but I’m glad I did. Clearly, I’m not the only one he hurt – he literally broke the hearts of millions on top of millions of people. The lies, the deceit – he comes across as a sociopath. I’m not a psychologist, but watching this guy lie over and over, under oath, on camera, right to his mother’s face – well, it was downright shocking.
I was tempted to feel sorry for him. Living with a whopping lie like that can’t be easy, and losing literally over $100 million can’t be easy. But, watching the interviews of the people he threatened over the decades and those he basically threw under the bus made any sympathy on my part difficult if not impossible to find.
Unfortunately, Lance’s fall from grace has had a lasting negative effect for me. I’ve actually lost interest in all professional sports. No more football. No more baseball. They all look like liars and cheats to me. It’s depressing. I’ll find my heroes elsewhere.
I find my heroes when I watch my teaching colleagues teach struggling students day after day. I find them in the police officer who sees me walking and wants to make sure I’m out for exercise and that I’m really okay. I see it in my veterinarian who works with animals day after day with gentleness and kindness and great knowledge. I see it in my father who taught in public schools for 32 years, in my mother who still sews for me in her 70s, in my husband who is still committed to me after 20 years, and in my grandmother who loved all of her grandkids unconditionally.
Sports figures should be someone to look up to, particularly for our youth. But, I will find my heroes elsewhere.
Colossians 3:9 (NRSV): Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices
Serve all with love.
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