As a young girl, I knew very little about the sport of cycling and couldn’t give you a definite answer as to what Le Tour de France even was. All I knew was that Lance Armstrong was a considered a hero; a man battling cancer and prevailing against all odds. I’m sure many of my classmates at Lahser would agree – Lance Armstrong was our role model. Unfortunately, this all has changed.
Instead of being inspired by the pageantry of Armstrong’s heroics and being proud to flaunt my yellow “Livestrong” bracelet, I have become disgusted. To find out an athlete so cherished by this nation had cheated, lied and destroyed anyone prepared to reveal his secrets is devastating. So my question is: why is this overshadowed by a college football player and the death of his imaginary girlfriend?
The sensationalist nature of the media gravitated nearly all of its attention to the Manti T’eo hoax, where the Heisman candidate was tricked into believing that he was dating an actual person online. The heart wrenching news of his “girlfriend” Lennay Kekua’s death broke the surface this season and captured the attention of many. Not only college football fans, but casual observers as well. Ultimately, the entire story was a hoax, and Manti T’eo its victim.
I’m sure that this controversy was appealing because of the compelling and heartwarming tale, as well as the uncertainties surrounding the story. This in turn generated more attention than that of Armstrong admitting his usage of performance enhancing drugs and adamantly lying to the world for years. Not only this, but Armstrong forced his teammates to take performance enhancing drugs with him and threatened and plotted against all who dared to question him.
People were captivated by the lies surrounding Armstrong and T’eo, but there is a defining difference. While Armstrong’s lies deceived the world and hurt his fans, charity and professional sports, the lies surrounding T’eo only hurt the Notre Dame Linebacker- himself. It does not seem fair that T’eo has received most of the criticism as Armstrong glided smoothly under the public radar.
While the media may be all too concerned about an imaginary woman, I know one thing for certain. Lance Armstrong is no longer a hero and idol to my generation, but a man of a forever tarnished legacy.