Good people, Livestrong and Lance Armstrong

By on March 20, 2013

By Tyler Mercer–

Lance Armstrong created the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997, while being treated for testicular cancer.

Enrolled in a Humanities class, I have begun to see the world in a somewhat different light. I have come to the realization, after a particularly interesting class session this week, that one is not a bad person by simply doing a bad thing. At the same time, we do not have to do good to be good people.

I think it comes down to a simple choice, however. To truly be good people, we must avoid bad decisions, but we must also be prepared to do the right thing when it may be easier to do wrong. That sounds easy in some cases. We might not want to give a friend a ride somewhere if it’s going to make our day hectic, but a good person may sacrifice their time to do a good thing. That’s an easy choice.

If the circumstances are changed and you are faced with a pretty large obstacle, that decision may be a little more difficult to make.

Lance Armstrong created the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997, while being treated for testicular cancer. A world-renowned champion cyclist, Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles among many more including marathons and Ironman competitions.

The media has been on top of covering Armstrong’s case with performance enhancing drugs, and the public has stayed very informed. While being found guilty and stripped of his Tour de France titles, Armstrong has also stepped down as chairperson of the Livestrong Foundation.

Does using performance enhancing drugs to essentially cheat in many sport competitions make Lance Armstrong a bad person? I do not think so. I do not generally like to think that doing something good replaces something bad, but I think that in a way, doing good things makes up for it a little.

Armstrong founded a massive cancer charity that in 2012 alone raised $48 million dollars. He may not be going door to door asking for donations, but having been Livestrong’s most generous single donor and having used his celebrity to help bring in support for Livestrong is a pretty huge deal.

Without the help of the cyclist, Livestrong may have never gained enough popularity or acknowledgment to have ever raised as much money as it has. It is spirited campaign of strength and perseverance has, no doubt, inspired many people who have been diagnosed with cancer, people who have seen friends and family members diagnosed and treated, and people who have lost family and friends to cancer.

The power and spirit behind this foundation has pushed for cancer awareness in a world where everyone is too busy to be cautious. We are a people alive with a cause, a spirit that is truly alive and ready to beat cancer.

So, I will ask again. Is Lance Armstrong a bad person? He has made bad choices, but so have the rest of us. The thing is, his bad choice was broadcasted to people all over the world.

People around the world were personally hurt and that is a big deal in their own worlds. That doesn’t make him a bad person. Remember, good people make bad decisions. Lance Armstrong has paid for his mistakes and will be paying for them for the rest of his life, during which time he has been banned from sports. For a man who has made a career on sports and competition, this is a huge life change for him.

So, I still believe that good choices and actions do not replace bad ones, but in some cases, maybe they do outweigh the bad ones. In the case of Lance Armstrong, I think this is true. He created an outstanding foundation and inspired people who are in the most need of powerful inspiration to fight and survive.

Losing its founder and chairperson, Livestrong could very easily have dissolved. The foundation could have decided to give up in the fight, but instead it has decided to do very much the opposite. Livestrong will continue sales of their yellow, Livestrong wristbands and its amazing support and inspiration to cancer patients will go on.

Maybe in the end Armstrong’s bad decisions will benefit the foundation in growing its popularity, and Armstrong’s good guy character will stay firm. Good people can make bad decisions and remain good people.

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Photo courtesy of Eric Gaillard/Reuters

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