You don’t sell 80 million yellow bracelets without making a few enemies. The man that brought cycling to the forefront of American sports culture has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, banned for life from the sport, and stepped down from the cancer charity that he created.
I’ll admit that I gave into the hype and purchased my fair share of those yellow Livestrong bracelets in the better part of the past decade.
I was a sucker for the story of this incredible athlete who not only defied the odds by defeating cancer, but also dominated one of the most grueling athletic competitions year after year.
One in three people will be affected by cancer in their lifetime and I, like many others, have witnessed what this horrible disease can do to a human being. I think that is why everyone was so enamored with Lance Armstrong, because they could relate that fighting spirit to the loved ones affected by or have fallen to the disease.
Here was a man that beat it and could perform on the athletic field like some type of super human.
I guess superheroes only exist in comic books.
Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles is the culmination of years of speculation, investigation and litigation.
Now there will be a void that will be unfulfilled in the history books with no Tour de France winner from 1999-2005. The “Armstrong era” will be looked at with more villainy than baseball’s “steroid era” simply because there is only one star athlete to focus on.
The snowball effect of these investigations has also left him sponsorless. Last week he was dropped by Nike and this week his final sponsor Oakley ended their relationship with him. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a monumental downfall for an athlete before.
Though Armstrong has now been scratched out of the history books, the inspiration that he has brought to those with cancer and contributions he has made to cancer research should not be forgotten.
Livestrong, the cancer charity that Armstrong founded, has raised over $500 million in the fight against the disease. The aforementioned yellow wristbands the charity created in 2004 serve as a symbol for cancer awareness and survival.
Just because its founder is marred in controversy doesn’t make the mission that the organization have any less merit.
“The mission is bigger than me. It’s bigger than any individual,” Armstrong said at Livestrong’s 15th anniversary celebration Friday.
The most shocking thing to come out from all of this are the people that want their money back from contributing to Livestrong because of Armstrong’s current plight. Despite what Armstrong may or may have not done on the athletic field, contributions were made not to him but to an organization that focused on the disease. I don’t feel that people have the right to feel slighted by the cyclist because the cause that they chose to contribute to is still valid.
Cancer is a common foe that many have encountered and are passionate about fighting. Any contributions made toward that effort can only be a positive thing.
Like Livestrong, cancer awareness through clothing has been seen throughout the month of October in the NFL as players wear pink accessories like shoes, hats, and wristbands for breast cancer. Any more light that could be shed toward the effort helps the movement and the NFL is showing that.
After all that has been taken from Armstrong, no one can take away the fact that he endured a disease that millions still continue to struggle with and helped create an organization that still continues to do good and inspire people around the world.