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Hey kids! Do you want to know something about cheating? Just look how Lance Armstrong rose to fame and the hole that he dug himself into.
That’s how cheating is. In reality, cheating is only cheating when caught. If you get your way by cheating, it could lead you to unimaginable things.
Lance Armstrong exemplifies that scenario where you cheat your way to something but get caught. That’s your hindsight.
But what if he never got caught? Would you still believe in what he stands for? How about his triumph of seven consecutive Tour de France, would it still amaze you? Would he still inspire you to ride that bicycle of yours and believe you could do good things for yourself? Would others strive to push themselves just to be better than him?
Truth is, the man called Lance Armstrong failed us. But if you leave the bad things out, you can still be inspired by the story of his triumph and glory. Then you take on that mantle to become the Lance Armstrong of what he is suppose to be… a hero.
The decline of Lance Armstrong from Greatest American Hero to Cheatingest Cheater Who Ever Cheated is an athletic fall from grace unmatched in recent history. Yes, even bigger than the slew of baseball heroes — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, etc. — left out of the sport’s Hall of Fame for, like Armstrong, their apparent use of performance-enhancing drugs to inflate their already prodigious athletic abilities.
But those players weren’t necessarily well-loved even as they put up performances that transcended their sport. Armstrong was an incredible story — a cancer survivor who won seven Tour de France cycling races, causing Americans to pay attention to a sport for which they had cared little, if at all. Armstrong was not merely an athlete. He was an inspiration, with LiveStrong bracelets pushing Americans through their otherwise humdrum lives as the charity of the same name raised millions for cancer research. Armstrong had cache among the kids as well. When my kids watch on-demand episodes of the PBS cartoon “Arthur,” one plotline that often pops up is where Armstrong joins the kids for a bike race and helps them get cycling lanes installed in Elwood City.
However, in this life, you have a choice to make. You can lie, cheat and steal, or you can conduct yourself with honor. It’s not merely about playing by the rules. It’s about treating other people as you would like to be treated, and about being honest with yourself and others about your strengths and your limitations, and using what gifts you have for the good of others, which is good for yourself, too.
Cheating your way to success can lead to success, but it comes at a heavy price. You have to organize your life around a lie. You have to be comfortable with destroying others through underhanded means. You have to be comfortable with the fact that your achievement might not be shared and celebrated by all, because they know how you did it. When you succeed through cheating and lying, people might not find out right away, but they find out eventually. Until then, you have to live with your conscience telling you, every night as you try to sleep, what you’ve done.