How can a father who has confessed to cheating, lying, manipulating, and destroying others now face his most important fans; his children? While skimming through the web today, I came across a picture of Lance Armstrong with his kids and it made me stop. As a fan of Armstrong I watched with great sadness as someone whom I respected as an athlete and inspiration to millions turned out to be not just a fraud, but a sociopath. And lost in the swath of bodies in Armstrong’s wake are his children. Has anyone stopped to think about the harm that he has done to them? How does he scold his son for cheating on a test now? Or his daughter for bullying?
I immediately thought of my boys. The competition has already begun for who can beat dad. And like a good father, I let them get close with some easy shots, then inevitably lay down the hammer reminding them dad’s still the biggest. There will inevitably come the day when they beat me fair and square. And when that day comes, as for most boys when they beat their dad for the first time, it will be bittersweet. Will Lance Armstrong ever have that day? How will his relationship with his kids change?Earlier in the year we had the bounty scandal in the NFL, where several players wound up suing the commissioner for defamation. In an interview I heard, one player said “it doesn’t matter whether I’m vindicated or not. Whenever my kids google my name, they will see this situation and I will have to explain it.” He was looking at the legacy he left to his children. As much as providing for them and raising them, their impression of him mattered as much as his anything. I can honestly say the same for myself. But what does Armstrong say? Can he say “I did it all for you”?
I’m sure somewhere in there, if the relationship is right, they still see their dad as a hero. And at the end of the day when everyone was cheating, which essentially leveled the playing field, he still won 7 Tour de France. But no matter what all the commentators, media, and peers think of him going forward, I hope that when he looks into the eyes of his children, at their disappointment and confusion, he can truly change.