I must confess. I’m having a hard time forgetting about the Lance Armstrong fiasco. As someone who enjoys the pursuit of excellence, sports, and cycling, and as someone who coaches young people on TheHopeLine, I can’t seem to get the Oprah interview with Armstrong out of my mind. His public profile over the last 15 years was huge.
People with this much exposure have an impact on pop culture. We, as a culture, long for heros. We see it in sport everyday. We emote with our favorite gladiators and, therefore, we bond with them. Their near miss of a home run, their missed tackle, and their follow-up slam dunk send our hearts in different directions, but send them they do. We adjust our social calendars around our favorite teams just so we can jump back into the emotional ride week after week.
So, what happens when one of these iconic figures falls from grace? What happens to our emotional state? After all, we still have some connection to them. They had set an example for us, they had allowed us to cheer ravenously for or against them, and, frankly, they had occupied a lot of our time. So, how are you really feeling about Lance Armstrong now that he has spelled his indiscretions out in black and white–at least, as near as we can tell–for the whole world to see?
Perhaps the better question to ask is not “How are you feeling about Lance Armstrong?”, but “What does our focus and attention to public figures like him say about our society?” Is our apparent obsession with sport and its leading actors a good thing, or is it overdone? Does our attention to televised sports provide a healthy diversion from the everyday stresses of life, or does it simply provide a short-term fix to a deeper problem? Is there something missing deep inside that our virtual participation in these games helps to fill? Who have you bonded more with lately: Tom Brady or your spouse? And what is the long-term impact on those in the developmental years, whose values are being shaped by what influences them most? What do you think? We would love to hear your comments.