Monday, August 27, 2012

Lance Armstrong and the Dangers of Liking the Thought of Someone

There is a great lesson to be learned from the Lance Armstrong story. I don't know Armstrong personally so my opinion is formed strictly from my perception of his as presented in the media. The old saying goes "perception is reality" but perception is not the facts. My opinion of Armstrong was formed the minute he left Sheryl Crow because she developed breast cancer. In all fairness, they have both denied this link but the timeline doesn't lie.

As with many professional athletes, Armstrong has a carefully crafted public image. As a cancer survivor, he and his foundation have raised millions to fund cancer research. So ironic. Years later he tried to brush off his breakup with Crow by saying it was all about children and getting married which is frankly unbelievable because he went into a new relationship with a woman who is now his wife and with whom he has two children.

Armstrong's professional accomplishments are well known and I won't recite them ere. He has also long been dogged by allegations of doping. When Armstrong announced he was going to stop fighting these allegations and allow himself to be stripped of his Tour De France wins, there was an outpouring of support for him. I don't know whether he doped and I really don't care.

There is no doubt Armstrong has done some good things in his life. There is also ample evidence he has done some bad things. There are anecdotal accounts of him being rude and unpleasant when the media eye is not upon him. Some people will be comfortable in believing Armstrong is a good person. Some will believe he is a cheater and a doper. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

With relatively few exceptions, most everyone is a mixed bag of good and bad behavior. The degree to which they engage in each is different of course but no one is truly all good or all evil with relatively few exceptions. Ultimately, I think you have to weigh the good and the bad in how you evaluate someone.

I would simply caution that there is a real danger in believing the public image anyone presents. We all want to believe our favorite athlete or favorite entertainer is exactly what he or she presents to us when they know they are being watched. Unfortunately, the reality is oftentimes something quite different.

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