Explaining Cheaters Like Lance Armstrong to Your Kids

Rant 2

Lance Armstrong cyclingLance Armstrong was just stripped of his seven Tour de France titles. If ever there was a poster child for "Just Say No to Drugs," Armstrong is it.

Every sport has its fair share of cheaters (We are still in the Steroid Era of Baseball, aren't we?), even cycling. So how do you explain it to your kids that their heroes, the role models they've been looking up to for years are nothing but big, fat phonies?

It's human nature to be competitive. I'll give you that. But is it human nature to be so competitive that you'll resort to outright lying, cheating, and pumping up your body with zillions of chemicals so that you just can't lose?

Thankfully, my kids haven't experienced this first-hand yet. "Yet" being the operative word. I know it's just a matter of time though. If reports surface that Yankees shortshop Derek Jeter's been using performance-enhancing drugs for years, I completely give up on baseball. My kids would be crushed beyond belief.

Athletes, just like any other role model, need to think of their fan base. Yes, getting older means you're not as strong as you used to be. Not as fast. Not as agile. But a real role model perseveres. He tries even harder when he knows his body is fighting against him. That's what makes a true hero: someone who knows their limitations, and despite them, presses on.

Kids need to learn that trying your best really is all that matters. I'd much rather have them root for an athlete who never won a single championship but gave it their all, then root for someone who won seven times, only to later on admit they had a "little" bit of chemical help.

So back to the question. How do I explain all of this to my kids? How do you explain that even adults cheat? I guess it's pretty simple. I think you should just tell them the truth. Some adults just never learned the true meaning of sportsmanship. And just like kids, some adults will lie and cheat to get what they want. It's wrong, it's unfair and they usually get caught.

In fact, we can use Armstrong's case as a valuable lesson. Here's someone who won seven huge races. He raised millions of dollars for his charity to fight cancer. And now, many years later, they find out he cheated and stripped him of his titles.

You can be mad at Armstrong. Disgusted by his actions. I know I am. But it's okay to still like his charity and remember the good that he's done for the fight against cancer. It may be difficult to separate the two, but nothing in life is black and white. That's another good point to teach the kids.

The bottom line, though, is that Lance Armstrong didn't listen to his grade school teachers. Cheaters never win. And if they do, they're eventually stripped of their titles.

Have your kids been disappointed by a cheating role model?


Photo via Chuck Abbe/Flickr

behavior, celebrity, drugs & alcohol, cycling


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Mark Turnipseed

you need to your facts straight for starters! Lets for starters consider what if used steroids? Have you efver used them? Trust me it isn't that ah inspiring contray to popular belief. I have to recover from a broken back. Two, I was on probation and when caught was told to stop. Guess what happpened?> Nothing! Because I I wanted to be best didn't mean steroids got me I willed myself there! For starters he was never caught on tour. Two, he demanded the lighest bike posssible!, Three, it is owned and run by the french so enough said there! Lance was a Texan whom the3 french consider stupid! I am born and raised texan and trust me we ain't stupid! It is sad that based on evidence submitted by people convicted of cheating that everyone assumes Lance cheated? In a real court these charges would be laughed at! It is asshame that you proclaim judgement for someone whose case has not been fully heard. I would further withhold judgment until all facts are released. Believe me not all is done yet so stay tuned!

italg... italgrkgoddess

Mark Turnispeed - I'm going to try and avoid picking the low-hanging fruit you leave in your response about people from Texas aren't stupid and your use of grammer/spelling.  Instead let's focus on what you say about steroids.  Do you realize just how many different types of steroids are out there?  The answer is countless.  I can promise you the steroids you got for your back are not the same ones that athletes use to get an edge.  You also fail to realize that he wasn't even using steroids, it was PED's which are different.  PED's are extremely hard to test for and are undetectable in urine tests which is why these are so commonly used by professional athletes now.  I also strongly suggest you read the report on this investigation.  It's not like they have one or two people who have come out and said he cheated.  You have a bunch of people who literally witnessed him taking the drugs during the race.  These were teammates of his, some of whom outed themselves as cheaters because of this investigation. 

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