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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Live Guilty

Lance Calls it No Contest.

 

Lance Calls it Quits

By now you have heard that Lance Armstrong has decided to give up his decade-long fight to clear his name of using performance enhancing drugs while on his way to winning the world’s most popular bike race 7 times, the Tour de France.  Those titles, all seven of them, have been stripped from Lance Armstrong.  What most of us know (our strong opinion) by this surrender, is that Lance Armstrong is probably guilty of something.  If not, why would you stop fighting to clear your good name?  After all, Lance is the face of cancer recovery and has millions of fans that look up to him as a hero.

Lance’s decision got me to thinking about what one does if they are in a pursuit of greatness and are presented with a moral dilemma.  Let’s imagine that you become the top cyclist in the world but a year later you fall out of the Top 3.  You know for a fact that the 3 cyclists above you are all using illegal substances to boost their performance.  You decide you are going to compete drug free but a year later you find yourself in 6th place with the 5 above you all using drugs.  Not much time passes before you find a spot at 11th place in the world.  Of course the entire Top 10 is now using performance enhancing drugs and the sport you love is now one where you can no longer compete on a level playing field.

The Moral Dilemma

What do you do now?  Do you stay true to yourself, remain drug free and watch your ranking plummet into the triple digits?  Do you tell on your fellow cheating cyclists?  Or, do you cave in to the pressure and start taking drugs yourself?  After all, without the drugs, there is no way you can beat the cyclists above you that are doping.

This is a choice that many athletes have found themselves facing as they rise through their sports’ respective ranks.  The sprinter who holds all the records at high school goes to a top university only to find that his/her blazing speed is not so fast at this level.  They also quickly realize that some of the runners they are competing with are getting help from banned substances.  These drugs are giving them the edge that they need to get to the top-level of their sport where, of course, they will quit using once they are crowned a champion.

This year nearly 100 minor league baseball players have been busted with performance enhancing drugs in their system.  The reason that they risked getting busted is clear.  They wanted to get to “the show”, or what we commonly call the big leagues, and they were willing to do whatever it took to get the edge and stand out in the minors.  The thinking goes that once I make it to the “bigs” I can stop taking the drugs because I have arrived.  What they find is that they have to keep it going or they could get kicked right back down into the minors.  Their moral dilemma continues…

The Armstrong Legacy

Lance Armstrong is putting up a good front right now.  His foundation donations are up and 100% of his sponsors have made the decision to stand by him even as he does something that few innocent men do.  Over time though more and more people will come to see what has happened here.  A man recovers from testicular cancer, a disease that should have killed him, and then decides to give up fighting for his innocence around doping.  I have heard that while Lance was at death’s door he was compelled to tell his doctors what he had put into his body so that they could save his life.  He confessed to being a bad boy in front of two friends, a married couple, who are lined up behind a dozen or so others to swear that Lance used banned substances during his career.

Why would this couple, former bike riding teammates (some who were busted for drugs and some not), and others from around the sport of cycling all line up to testify against him using drugs?  Probably because he is guilty of something.  Tests are one thing but when human beings, with no ax to grind, all start telling the same story about you it’s probably because it is true.  The way to avoid such embarrassing disclosures is to just shut the whole process down which is where we find ourselves right now.

Would Lance have all of the staunch support he now commands if he hadn’t rained in all those millions for cancer research?  Probably not and eventually the money train is going to slow down and when it does opinions of Lance’s guilt or innocence will start to color his legacy the right shade of gray.  So often the court of “public opinion” depends so much on the likability and the bankability of the subject in question.  Everyone loves Lance because of his cancer battle and are now more than willing to look the other way at the fact that he cheated his sport.  Those of us who are smart enough to realize the feeling of true innocence would never give that up unless we were guilty.

You decide…

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2012 in Business, Life, Sports

 

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Small Gestures

One day, when I was a freshman in high school, I saw a kid from my class was walking home from school.  His name was Kyle.  It looked like he was carrying all of his books.  I thought to myself, “Why would anyone bring home all his books on a Friday?  He must really be a nerd.  I had quite a weekend planned (parties and a football game with my friends tomorrow afternoon), so I shrugged my shoulders and went on.

As I was walking, I saw a bunch of kids running toward him.  They ran at him, knocking all his books out of his arms and tripping him so he landed in the dirt.  His glasses went flying, and I saw them land in the grass about ten feet from him.  He looked up and I saw this terrible sadness in his eyes.  My heart went out to him. So, I jogged over to him and as he crawled around looking for his glasses, and I saw a tear in his eye.

As I handed him his glasses, I said, “Those guys are jerks.  They really should get lives.” He looked at me and said, “Hey thanks!”  There was a big smile on his face.  It was one of those smiles that showed real gratitude.  I helped him pick up his books, and asked him where he lived.  As it turned out, he lived near me, so I asked him why I had never seen him before.

He said he had gone to private school before now.  I would have never hung out with a private school kid before.  We talked all the way home, and I carried some of his books.  He turned out to be a pretty cool kid.  I asked him if he wanted to play a little football with my friends.  He said yes. We hung out all weekend and the more I got to know Kyle, the more I liked him, and my friends thought the same of him.

Monday morning came, and there was Kyle with the huge stack of books again.  I stopped him and said, “Boy, you are gonna really build some serious muscles with this pile of books everyday!”  He just laughed and handed me half of the books.  Over the next four years, Kyle and I became best friends.  When we were seniors, we began to think about college.

Kyle decided on Georgetown, and I was going to Duke.  I knew that we would always be friends, that the miles would never be a problem.  He was going to be a doctor, and I was going for business on a football scholarship.  Kyle was valedictorian of our class.  I teased him all the time about being a nerd.  He had to prepare a speech for graduation.  I was so glad it wasn’t me having to get up there and speak.

On Graduation day, I saw Kyle.  He looked great.  He was one of those guys that really found himself during high school.  He filled out and actually looked good in glasses.  He had more dates than I had and all the girls loved him.  Boy, sometimes I was jealous.  Today was one of those days.

I could see that he was nervous about his speech.  So, I smacked him on the back and said, “Hey, big guy, you’ll be great!”  He looked at me with one of those looks (the really grateful one) and smiled.  “Thanks,” he said.

As he started his speech, he cleared his throat, and began “Graduation is a time to thank those who helped you make it through those tough years.  Your parents, your teachers, your siblings, maybe a coach…but mostly your
friends…I am here to tell all of you that being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give them.  I am going to tell you a story.”

I just looked at my friend with disbelief as he told the story of the first day we met.  He had planned to kill himself over the weekend.  He talked of how he had cleaned out his locker so his Mom wouldn’t have to do it later and was carrying his stuff home.  He looked hard at me and gave me a little smile.  “Thankfully, I was saved.  My friend saved me from doing the unspeakable.”

I heard the gasp go through the crowd as this handsome, popular boy told us all about his weakest moment.  I saw his Mom and Dad looking at me and smiling that same grateful smile.  Not until that moment did I realize it’s depth.  Never underestimate the power of your actions.  With one small gesture you can change a person’s life.  For better or for worse.  God puts us all in each other’s lives to impact one another in some way.  Look for God in others.

“Friends are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”  There is no beginning or end.  Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift.

I did not, I repeat, I did not write this story but I did want to share it with each of you because it is one that may touch you or a loved one the way it touched me.  You see, I was that glasses wearing nerd in high school.  And even though I was tall and athletic, I lacked confidence and self-esteem at that time in my life and know that I am not alone in that respect.  It is my sincere hope that you will share this with a friend as my best friend once shared this with me.  Thank you.

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Life, Love, Relationships, Religion

 

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