I never bought it. Perhaps his tale of triumph was too good to be true, or maybe there was just too much of an entitled, elitist edge to how he carried himself. I’m not really sure.
But whatever it was, whatever gut instinct I had permeating throughout my being whenever the guy’s name and his exploits were mentioned, how he was above reproach and would never do anything that wasn”t above board, I never bought it when it came to Lance Armstrong.
Which is why news such as yesterday’s announcement that he must pay a record $10 million in damages to the insurance firm he sued over Tour de France bonuses brings a smile to my face.
Call it just desserts … or a victory for “right.”
Having beaten cancer, excelled on the cycling circuit, then returned to do it again, all while being a champion for charitable causes, Armstrong seemed the dream athlete of today to many, a man with a mission that extended far beyond his own well-being.
He didn’t just care about himself, was the thinking. He cared about you, me, everyone … and especially those who had endured cancer or some other life-altering ailment or circumstance.
Maybe that was, and is, all true – in some convoluted fashion. But when the chinks in the armor started to show up, ironically starting at the height of his fame a decade ago, with allegations of doping as a means to cover his tracks, Armstrong handled things so poorly and with such disdain he became much less admired, and far less believable.
Arrogance and Armstrong, they became mirror images – if they hadn’t been all along.
Oh, it took a while for some to accept the idea that their beloved figure, their icon, their idol could ever do anything that could be construed as “wrong” or “illegal,” and some, as seems to be the norm anymore these days, even proclaimed, “so what, he didn’t hurt anybody.”
Tell that to the people he insulted, cheated, lied to, and stole money from in his wake. Better yet, tell that to yourself, for falling for something, someone who wasn’t real, but rather a phony facsimile of what you hoped you could believe in and count on.
Armstrong played that hype to the hilt, banking more than $100 million in the process, all while, in reality, looking down on everyone, even his adoring masses.
Pride goeth before the fall, huh? Fortunately, some sayings turn out to be true.
- Jack Kerwin is the Director of Communications at the United States Sports Academy. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.