Big Deal!!! Lance Armstrong Used PED’s...So What?

There are those who believe that too much has been made of Lance Armstrong’s use of PED’s, that his recent admission on Oprah was pointless, that his work with cancer through his Livestrong Foundation should supersede all as it has helped so many. There are also those (likely a good number from the same group above) who think since so many were using when Lance was competing that his use didn’t matter, that it was a supposed “even” playing field, and that so many are using in so many sports that PED use should be allowed and just regulated.

Me…I’m NOT one of those aforementioned. I am nowhere near in that thinking as I fall completely on the opposite end of the scale, and I am not alone.

Take Mike Golic’s comments (Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio out of Chicago) on Mike Greenberg questioning whether it is time to allow PED’s in sports and just regulate them as it seems obvious their use has become rampant.

In the following taped segment, Golic emphasizes that allowing and regulating performance-enhancement drugs in sports would make the problem much worse…not better. That it would have a larger, more global impact…especially with our youth. Listen to his comments for yourself as I found his sentiments logical and well thought out:

Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic debate about whether it's time to regulate the usage of some performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports

Golic’s observations in this segment are so crystal clear that they resonate strongly with me, as I also believe what he said to be accurate. Mike…hat’s off to you, your remarks are right on point.

Continuing this discussion, and bringing it back to Lance Armstrong, take the Center for Ethical Youth Coaching’s (CEYC) position on all this. And let me reemphasize here that word ETHICAL in their title as it is an important piece to this whole issue of PED use. You see…there is much more at stake than little old Lance and his “bad,” unethical, self-serving behavior.

It is something many negate, or simply don’t see, as they accept what he did as a normal part of being an elite level athlete, something they believe society has no right to meddle in as it is his right as an individual to choose to use or not, and something that really has no important impact on anyone else other than him and cycling.

I suppose if we look at this situation with a very narrow focus, basically with blinders on (those things horses wear to keep their vision forward), or we view Lance’s “cheating” in light of the awful tragedy of Sandy Hook (or despicable Penn State scandal and Jerry Sandusky), I can certainly see that point.

However, as is true with many things, even though the lies Armstrong vehemently told for many years (then turn a big 180 well after so much evidence became public) don’t come close to the two terrible and shocking circumstances previously mentioned…it still is well beyond the “middle” of the scale. And whether one wants to “see” it or not…it does have negative impact on our youth, and, from my perspective, with society as a whole.

And that’s where the Center for Ethical Youth Coaching enters the picture.  In a recent news release, board director and vice president, Dr. John Mayer (clinical psychology from Northwestern University Medical School), clarifies the impact Lance’s behavior has had on youth.

“I am in schools every day and I have been polling students on their reaction to the anticipated Armstrong revelation on the Oprah Show. The reaction is divided between, ‘Oh well, another great athlete has cheated to get glory.' and, ‘He was one (athlete) we could believe in.’ and, ‘No surprise, they all cheat to win.”

“The harm this does to young people hungry for role models is devastating.”

“The fall of Lance Armstrong as a role model for young athletes is a huge hit to our efforts to promote ethics and character development in youth sports.”

“Armstrong was so adamant about his innocence, kids looked at him as one of the good guys who was doing it right and engaging in ethical participation.”

So what does that say to our youth about high level sports competition and the athletes who compete at that level? The answer is obvious.

Whether we want to believe it or not, it is impacting our youth and their attitudes about what one must do to compete at the higher levels. Kids are growing up in a culture that believes this is the way it is for all, that this is how someone gets really good, that it is just a normal part of being an athlete. To me, that’s about one step away from becoming, well…acceptable—OK!!!

And when we look at society as a whole…aren’t we seeing similar attitudes? That it is normal…OK, to cheat, to do whatever it takes no matter the consequence to anyone, to “win” through making more money, gaining more power, even getting better grades, regardless of how one might go about gaining those things—a “win at all costs” attitude.

Couldn’t we say that our sports culture these days, Armstrong being only one example, is simply reflecting a culture that is moving toward a thought process that says “cheating...doing whatever I need to, to get what I want, is just fine as long as I don’t get caught”?

(And it might come as a suprise to some that, as a veteran educator, I have heard students say these exact words about cheating, "if you don't get caught, you've done nothing wrong.")

Couldn’t we say that what we are seeing in sports today is simply a microcosm of society as a whole, more loudly reflecting the same attitudes and beliefs?

So yes, there are worse things than the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, but…to dismiss it as an unimportant issue that has little impact on anyone other than Lance Armstrong and/or cycling is an error society cannot afford.

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