It’s been a few weeks since Lance Armstrong’s house of cards came to a fiery and sorrowful end. Once revered as one of the greatest cyclists, athletes and altruists of our time, the cancer survivor who won seven Tour de France championships has been discredited (photo by Oddne Rasmussen).
As it unfolded, I kept hearing Murray Head’s lyric from “Say it ain’t so, Joe”, the song about baseball star Shoeless Joe Jackson who was banned from playing the game he loved because he was implicated in a conspiracy to fix the 1919 world series:
They told us our hero has played his trump card
He doesn’t know how to go on.
We’re clinging to his charm and determined smile,
But the good old days have gone.
These events pain me greatly. At Active for Life we promote physical skills and sport as a way to enhance your kid’s chances of success. To all the parents who trust us, I would like to share the following thoughts.
No matter how fantastic the performance and athletic accomplishment, it’s key to remember that sport is only a game. Games are played for the enjoyment of the participants and spectators. Too often, kids that are good in certain sports are perceived and raised as semi-gods, almost disconnected from reality. Sadly, often these kids remain just that as they grow up and become superstars.
Develop the whole person
When played with passion, sport is a condensed version of life. It is a rich arena that reveals one’s true character and can lead to great personal development. What really matters is what your kid will learn about herself as she strives to become good at one, or even better, many sports. It’s the journey that counts, not the money, sponsorship or limelight.
Salvage the good from this mess
Live Strong, Lance Armstrong’s foundation to fight cancer may have been built on a lie, but it created undeniable positives in the fight against cancer. I am not sure how, but the good that has come out of this endeavor should be salvaged and differentiated from the lies.
Healing takes time
Many have been hurt and feel betrayed. My kid asked me “Are all the athletes you work with [as a sport psychology consultant] like him?” It broke my heart to hear that.
I must admit that it’s going to be difficult for me to celebrate over-marketed sports heroes with my kids. I will seek and celebrate everyday heroes more. The moms and dads who run marathons or walks for a cause. The weekend warriors who compete for the pure pleasure of it. My son and daughter who give their heart and soul on the ice, on the court and in the back yard.
Long live sport. True sport.