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.
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.
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.