Hearne: Sporting Kansas City Needs to Pull Plug on Livestrong / Armstrong Connection

It’s time for Sporting Kansas City to face the music – past time, actually…

It’s time to separate the organization from the in-denial sports homers who continue to stand by dishonored cyclist Lance Armstrong – hoping against hope, wanting to believe. Sports fans are like that. Above almost anything else they want to believe in their team, in their guy – no matter who that guy happens to be as long as he’s a star. The guy who breathes life and excitement into our often otherwise drab existences of going to work and paying the bills.

This is no secret, it’s the human condition.

Even the jocks at prestigious local institute of learning Pembroke Hill were held to lower academic standards and treated differently than the future prominent doctors, lawyers and business leaders they attended school alongside.

Nobody much in this country wanted to believe Lance Armstrong was a dirt bag.

After all, he’d put one over on those haughty French, hadn’t he?

Yet foolishly Sporting Kansas City bet the farm on Armstrong conferring its generous, unusual naming rights deal on his cancer foundation Livestrong.

Sporting’s decision to gamble on Armstrong was foolish however because it was all but crystal clear to anyone following the situation that he’d likely cheated. And say what you will about Livestrong’s mission overshadowing Armstrong, the fact remains its foundation was built on the presumed accomplishments of a man who has been universally discredited and become an international object of scorn.

And don’t think for one minute Armstrong wasn’t a key player in Sporting’s decision to pick Livestrong.

When the media were assembled for the big naming rights celebration at the not yet completed stadium, the entire assembly had to wait for Armstrong’s delayed flight so he could say a few words and take a bow.

It was clear though – looking at him – that he was a man on the run.

A doping-free Lance Armstrong would have had a bounce in his step and a big grin on his face for an event of that sort rather than the dour, somber smile offered up by the seven time Tour de France winner.

There were plenty of other deserving causes and candidates worthy of Sporting’s generous offer, but I can’t think of one that came with a universally famous and popular founder / mascot. A universally-admired sports star.

So Sporting went for it.

But why gamble on someone who if proven guilty – and the signs were all there – would cast disgrace upon the name of his organization and everything associated with it?

Has Livestrong done its fair share of good? Of course.

But would you name a charity or stadium after O.J. Simpson or Joe Paterno?

Not while the jury was still out.

And for those who think Armstrong bailed from Livestrong when he stepped down as chairman last week, get a clue.

Not only does Armstrong remain on Livestrong’s board, this past Saturday he stood center stage at Livestrong’s 15th anniversary gala in Austin, got a standing ovation and told the faithful, “It’s been an interesting couple of weeks.”

An interesting couple of weeks?

Armstrong’s sponsors are dropping like flies, all seven of his Tour de France wins have been vacated, Livestrong donors are asking for their money back and he’s the most discredited athlete in sports.

Is that the name Kansas City’s most successful pro sports franchise wants to associate itself with?

Of course not.

Nor should Livestrong retain Armstrong on its board.

Robin Williams, Matthew McConaughey, and Sean Penn, were slated to be guests at Livestrong’s gala Saturday night with Norah Jones performing.

However according to the Huffington Post McConaughey no-showed and Williams and Jones bypassed the red carpet and snuck in through the back door.

So if Livestrong wants to indeed live strong, the organization needs to severe all ties to Armstrong.


Ditto for Sporting Kansas City with Livestrong. Surely Sporting didn’t go into the six year agreement without an exit strategy, given the dark clouds hanging over Armstrong.

By the way, Armstrong is even more of a heel and terrible role model by virtue of his continuing to lie about not doping. What kind of model citizen doesn’t even have the decency to be honest when the entire world is onto him? Besides Jerry Sandusky.

The big celebs entered Livestrong’s bash through the back door, Sporting Kansas City needs to exit via the front.

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21 Responses to Hearne: Sporting Kansas City Needs to Pull Plug on Livestrong / Armstrong Connection

  1. Markus Aurelius says:

    Comparing Lance Armstrong’s cheating in the sport of cycling (at a time when most other cyclists were also cheating) and subsequent lying to a murderer or a child molester is asinine – why not include a pic of Hitler and let Godwin’s Law apply in all its glory. He doped, he lied, he’s paying the price – don’t make it bigger deal that it is. Have you not seen this – http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/08/24/sports/top-finishers-of-the-tour-de-france-tainted-by-doping.html – which shows which of the top 10 TdF finishers during Armstrong’s tenure have been found to have doped. More than 1/3 of the top cyclists doped during the same time period, as have countless baseball players and football players, etc… and ALL of them lied about it – it’s only the length of time that the lied that differs. No athlete in any of these sports cheated and then immediately turned themselves in – no, they ALL cheated, and then competed, and competed some more and then eventually got caught. This doesn’t legitimize Armstrong’s lies, it just puts them in perspective along with Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Jose Canseco, Floyd Landis, etc… It doesn’t make it right, but quit pretending cheating in sports is the equivalent of committing capital crimes or sodomizing and raping little kids. It’s a disgrace to the victims and insulting to the readers of your site.

    HC: First of all, the comparisons were to OJ Simpson, who is not a convicted murderer and Paterno, who is not even an accused child molester.

    The reference to Sandusky was to Armstrong’s insistence in continuing to lie about his drug use even after the entire world knows he’s lying.

    You’re right, he doped and he’s paying the price. But he’s not through paying the price yet after ripping off sponsors and donors for millions – even the US Postal Service. And he hardly repentant since he won’t even come clean to this day.

    The column however is about Sporting needing to cut the cord with Armstrong and Livestrong. Your take on that?

    • Markus Aurelius says:

      And why exactly are the actions of 3 actors relevant in the decision-making process of whether to remove the name at LSSP? These are 3 actors whose ability to earn a living is in large part impacted by their ability to craft and maintain an appropriate image for their viewing public. Seems foolish to use their decisions regarding whether or not to appear at Livestrong’s gala as a basis to decide whether to change the name at LSSP. As a gossip columnist I understand you have a greater affinity for the selfish decisions by celebs of the day, but the rest of us tend not to use their decisions as a part of our critical thinking process.

      HC: Strictly a news report, wild man. And to illustrate that Armstrong is still center stage with Livestrong which many people do not know after reading he’d stepped down as chairman.

      You’re welcome to take that news and use it however you wish. Even to rationalize away Armstrong’s actions while ignoring the central point of the column.

    • Markus Aurelius says:

      (My reply after HC’s interlineated comments)

      Hearne, my take on whether SKC needs to cut the cord with Livestrong is that it’s up to the owners/execs with SKC to make that decision. Just as Nike and AB decided to cut ties with Armstrong (for now anyway) and other corporate entities have stuck with, or run away from, other athletes when problems befell those individuals, usually of their own making. They’re big boys and girls and can decide for themselves. They’re well informed.

      You said that you think Sporting needs to severe all ties to Livestrong immediately. I think that decision is premature right now.

      Why do we always try to squeeze either a black hat or a white hat on people and forget that as human beings we ALL make mistakes, we ALL make bad choices at some point and we ALL have the capacity to do good, wonderful, meaningful things to help our fellow man. Black and white hats are good for movies, they’re not so good in real life. They lead to making incorrect assumptions, wrong conclusions and lazy thinking. Lance Amstrong, like so many others, has made some terrible choices but he has also done an amazing amount of good through his foundation. His decision to dope during a time when most cyclists (at least those that were winning) doped wasn’t right, and his ongoing lies about it were worse than the original acts of doping, but I’m quite sure that given the passage of enough time America (and her corporations) will once again embrace him. Few would have thought that Slick Willie could experience the return to favor which he has but typically, after the exploitation of these issues by the media dies down and wanes from our memory, most people begin to think rationally again and remember that life outside the bedroom also comes in 50 shades of gray.

      • chuck says:

        +1 for all thee comments from the philospher king Hearne.

        I think maybe the comparison of Armstrong to Sandusky was breaking the butterfly on the wheel a bit.

  2. Super Dave says:

    Funny you say Lance and his name should be removed from all things for doing something against the rules and being deceitful.

    I do believe he floats around in the area of pond scum and should be forgotten myself but that’s a different matter.

    Yes the foundation made or collected millions for cancer research but a huge chunk of that was collected and donated by volunteer workers helping the cause. So wasn’t as if Lance did it all himself unlike his followers would like you to believe.

    So Hearne, based on all the facts and reasons you have listed for Lance to just be banned from everything, I have just one question of you. How is it then that you defend Glazer as you do? I mean Lance never did any jail time but you are ready to put into words that he as well as his name should be banned from public viewing.

    One must be careful when crusading against wrong doers. If wrong is wrong, then it is wrong and applies to all.

  3. The Livestrong Legacy says:

    The fact is this is a reflection of the out of control nature and frankly money in sports. Winning at all costs is the motto of professional sports that comes with far to many risks and has incredible and un-measurable ramifications to a younger generation.

    Competition is a natural human instinct but combined with money, fame, sponsorship, it becomes a plague. It’s hidden the abuse of kids and drug use it has been seen as an excuse for unethical and criminal activity. I hazard to bet that there are few in the professional ranks that aren’t using some drug to enhance performance or maintain performance. The “pure” “organic” athlete does exist but likely not in the professional ranks. I could be wrong but the message is the same. Sports in this country are out of control thanks to billions of dollars and pressure to win at all costs.

    That being said let us not forget that Lance Armstrong wasn’t justified in his actions. But he is virtually no different than most prominent atheletes today. Let us not forget this man also battled back from a condition that likely would have killed most people. That he took his fame, his fortune, his name, his accomplishments (all be it mis represented) and developed a foundation that has helped fuel a cause that has impacted nearly everyone of our lives or those of we love.

    The mantra “Livestrong” isn’t about the man its about the image of overcoming hardship and seeking strength. It comes as no surprise that celebrities will distance themselves, sponsors abandon, and governing bodies seek retribution but they are in it for the fame and prestige not the mission. The legacy of Lance Armstrong shouldn’t be about his accomplishments in sports but his accomplishments outside of sports. Livestrong through your mistakes, livestrong through your challenges, Livestrong to overcome adversity. When I look at Sporting KC i’m not seeing Lance Armstrong. I’m seeing an establishment that is the pinnacle of its sport, that comes from a movement (not a man) that has a message of encouragement.

    • admin says:

      Well said, but it’s going to be extremely difficult for Sporting (and Livestrong) to do the good they intend while they are attached to the most diss-respected athlete in the world.
      And having Armstrong on the Livestrong board and center stage at its anniversary gala seems more than a bit much.

      The sponsors, fellow cyclists, donors and cycling fans worldwide seem to get it.

      Many of us in this country appear to be having a hard time however dealing with the reality. As does Armstrong.

      • the dude says:

        Livestrong is about beating cancer, it is bigger than Armstrong.
        And no, Sporting doesn’t have to do jack squat about severing ties with Livestrong, they are big boys with big britches and can make up their own damn minds as to whom they wish to associate with.

        Maybe you need to drop this and get back to complaining about big bad Harley weekend warriors stealing your favorite coffee parking spot.

    • harley says:

      probably one of the best pieces of writing onthis subject!!!!!!!! congrats!!!!!
      LIVESTRONG!!!!! LIVESTRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      never give up….NEVER…NEVER….NEVER….NEVER….NEVER…
      JIMMY V

  4. Reggin Tnuc says:

    The infidelities of Bill Clinton are far more egregious offenses than Mr. Armstrongs doping, yet no one is calling for the DNC to abandon him. While both men advanced scorched earth policies against their accusers and detractors, in the end it will be those of Mr. Armstrong who will most likely be able to obtain a restoration of their good names and reputations along with financial settlements.

    Sometimes good can come from evil. Such it is with Livestrong. You may strip Mr. Armstrong of his many titles but not from the fact that he defeated cancer. His story has given hope, meaning and purpose to tens of thousands. While his sponsors abandon him, Nike and Anheuser Busch will continue in their support of Livestrong. The Foundation is bigger than Mr. Armstrong and should long survive his existence. No need to throw the baby out with the bath water. Mr. Armstrong’s story of cancer survival can and should remain as inspiration for all of us no matter what challenges or obstacles we face in life. That is the message of hope that embodies Livestrong.

  5. Jim says:

    Every single professional (and non-professional) sport has its cheaters. No exceptions. Football and baseball players are suspended on a REGULAR basis. NASCAR drivers have cheated since the inception of the sport. Hockey players beat the living shit out of each other to were criminal charges are brought against the offending player. Do I even need to mention NBA players? I few million and a rape charge just disappears. My point is that all these athletes are welcomed back to their sports with open arms. The teams they played for are NOT penalized any records, any wins or any championships. Isn’t cheating, cheating? All these hypocrites are coming out of the woodwork saying that Armstrong’s name should be stricken from every record like Ramses stricken Moses’ name from every book and tablet.

    What Armstrong has done with the whole Livestrong organization far exceeds any cheating scandal. As if ANYONE gives two shits about cycling anyways. Step off your soap boxes, people. Cycling and doping is like baseball and steroids. Nobody is rewriting the record books in the MLB even after they KNEW that everyone was juicing.

  6. mark smith says:

    The Sandusky and OJ comparison are a pretty lengthy stretch. I saw a poll recently, dont recall where, the poll showed most people dont think the doping scandal negates the millions and millions that Armstrong helped raise for cancer research. If Sandusky becomes the voice for the Cub Scouts, or OJ starts working at battered womens shelters, then you might be on to something. As it is, 99.9 percent of the world could not care less about the sport of riding a bicycle. Cancer research on the other hand matters in the grand scheme of things.

  7. Facts says:


    You act as if Armstrong took a bus along a side route and was delivered to the finish line. HE DIDNT!!! HE TRAINED … AND RODE AND COMPETED ALONG TORTURIST NARROW ROADS DID WHAT IT TOOK TO WIN THE RACE IN THOSE DAYS!!!…. AND HE NEVER FAILED A TEST..


    But oh how the world LOVES to rake our past heros over the coals.
    I SAY… Let those without sins cast the first stone!!!

    MY QUESTION IS WHO WINS WITH THIS EXPENSIVE YEARS LONG WITCH HUNT??? Did someone get a pay day,,, does it make someone happy? WHAT IS THE POINT?

    If only someone had done a good of a job investigating WHAT REALLY happened on 9/11 and the ensuing shenanigans… IF ONLY someone had done a good of a job investigating who/how they REALLY MURDERED JOHN F KENNEDY!!!

    If only someone would do as good of an investigation into the shit going on a Guantanamo BAY …. STILL HAPPENING TODAY!!! …

    IF ONLY someone would would do as good of an investigation into the ATF sending guns to Mexico…… IF ONLY SOMEONE WOULD DO AS GOO OF AN INVESTIGATION INTO WHY WE REALLY TOOK OUT GADDAFI (it is all about Petro Dollars versus using gold as currency- look it up)



  8. Superfreq says:

    Nike cut ties with Armstrong but they haven’t cut ties with the LiveStrong foundation. I imagine Sporting will steer that course as well.

    I’m not going to refute Armstrong doped but cycling can’t even give Lance’s titles to someone as else because they probably couldn’t find a clean racer from that era. Baseball and football continue to have better doping methods of not getting caught but people still watch it. Athletes lie about doping to this day, and will only admit it after they get caught. This year’s World Series is being hosted in SF, because a caught doper helped win the All-Star game this year. LiveStrong is fighting cancer, not doping athletes. As an SKC STH, I have no issues with the Park remaining to be named LiveStrong Sporting Park.

  9. Goose13 says:

    Sporting does not need to cut ties withe Livestrong. Livestrong needs to totally clean house and make sure Armstrong is off the board and have NO contact or interaction with them. If they do that, then the name should stay, if not, the name should go. Livestrong should start a new leaf and make people come to know them about cancer, not Armstrong.

    HC: I think the Goose’s words are golden

  10. Orphan of the Road says:

    The question now will be is Livestrong a real charity or just a PR charity ala Komen, the American Cancer Society or The United Way?

    The Cancer Crawl(s) have been way to take in lots of money for the organization and not so much for actual cancer research.

    As a two-time cancer survivor, that is what I look at when cancer and charity are in the same sentence.

  11. randy bob says:

    it’s just embarrassing that the one successful area pro sports team plays in a stadium associated with that cheating, bullying dirtbag. The Cerner guys are obviously brilliant, so hopefully they’ll get on this.
    BTW: has any celeb come out FOR cancer?

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