I am not a cyclist. I often rode bikes when I was younger and even chose a bike as a prize when I placed in a fundraising contest in elementary school. Out of the over-sized stuffed animals, games, and various other eye-candy prizes that were offered up, I chose the bike. And I rode it. A lot. And I still ride today. Not that bike in particular, and not as often as I used to, but I still love heading out to the local trails for a few hours of relaxing, leg-pumping enjoyment. But a dedicated, committed, diehard cyclist? No, not by a long-shot. So as a non-cyclist, how do I feel about the recent news regarding Lance Armstrong? And what is the first thing I think of when I hear the name “Lance Armstrong”?
Yes, I’m fully aware this is a man who dominated his sport, who lied throughout his career about doping, and who survived, against the odds, cancer after he was diagnosed at the age of 25. So why is it none of those achievements (or scandals) come to mind first when I hear the name “Lance Armstrong”?
Because no matter what he achieved in his career, no matter what his indiscretions were, he did something even bigger than all of that combined. He did something that will live through the ups and downs of his life, and it will continue to live on even after he is gone. He created a foundation that is dedicated to helping people whose lives were affected by cancer. According to the American Cancer Society website, “Half of all men and one-third of all women in the U.S. will develop cancer during their lifetimes. Today, millions of people are living with cancer or have had cancer.”
Let me reiterate: Millions of people are living with cancer or have had cancer. And Lance Armstrong was the creator of one of the most recognized foundations in the world today that is dedicated to helping the millions of people affected by this disease.
Will Lance be able to salvage his carefully crafted, now shattered image and brand, and regain even a sliver of the adoration and admiration of not only his peers, but the world? There are some who are already doling out advice on this subject that seemingly are on Lance’s side in their own way. “Re-branding Lance Armstrong: Marketing Pros’ 6-Step Recovery Plan” by Ashley Fetters of The Atlantic asks four professionals in the marketing and consulting industries how Armstrong can recover. As Fetters states, “… if disgraced heroes like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Martha Stewart, and Tiger Woods taught us anything, it’s that there’s always a way to crawl back into the public’s good graces…”
Yes, Lance made some bad judgment calls and extremely bad choices in life that not only affected him but others around him as well. But he did make one great call. And that was to create LIVESTRONG in order to help millions of people affected by a terrible disease.
So can Lance eventually pick up the pieces and repair his broken existence?
In my non-cyclist opinion, yes. A person who can touch that many people for the good is deep-down, a good person. A good person who has made bad choices in other areas of his life. One is left to wonder — if Lance hadn’t dominated his sport with the assistance of doping, would LIVESTRONG be as well-known today?
Think about it.