Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Livestrong After The Fact - Why Hold It In?

I've already written about Lance Armstrong. What I really want to talk about is the sport of denial.

It took me a few days to mull this over in my head, most especially since there are so many psychological truths you have to think about and be philosophical about. It took me about five cups of tea to write something down about it, and I hope that it worked.

In a public age such as this, self-image is a very important thing to keep. If you want to be rich and famous, you have to live a good life in and out of the spotlight. However, there's a massive problem that comes from all of this: since one may be in the spotlight relatively often, it may often be difficult to keep secrets and keep one's private life out of the open. Some secrets may be 'TMI,' so to speak, but there are other juicy secrets and suspicions that may be the root of endless speculation and denial of truths.

Here is what begins the vicious cycle phenomenon of "skeletons in the closet." We have seen this issue most recently with Lance Armstrong's admittance of doping during his interview with Oprah Winfrey. After winning the Tour de France a record seven times and being the poster boy for the Livestrong movement, things began to fall apart once rumors rose of his usage of performance-enhancing drugs.
[Personally, I don't know why he had to break it to Oprah of all people, but that's just my opinion on the matter.]
Since Armstrong was then surrounded by controversy, he slowly fell into denial and began covering his tracks to maintain his public image. One example was that he stepped down from the Livestrong Foundation and broke off all ties. When the time came to, his titles were then stripped and he received a lifetime ban from cycling. Since everything was practically taken away from him, he had no choice but to speak out on the truth as the damage to his image had already been done.

Why did he wait so long? Did he think that the damage to his self-image would have been much lighter?

Whether you want to think this way or not, nobody is really going to forget that you were accused of cheating in some way. You start to begin thinking of why the person in question even takes part in illegal practices to begin with. They should know the risks, right? Sometimes they'll do it out of guilt, and then they hold it in. However, the main problem is that once they do the illegal practice, there's no "diplomatic immunity" of sorts even when one comes clean about the issue. Because the person had even made the decision to do it, there's no escape from the law and from the media on what he/she did. Regardless of what their careers held, they're not invincible.

One big example of this lack of invincibility is baseball player/manager Pete Rose. Back in the 70's and 80's, "Charlie Hustle" was a three-time World Series champ, a two-time Gold Glove winner, a Rookie of the Year and MVP award-winner, and also holds the all-time records for hits, games played, at-bats, and outs. In 1989, he was permanently ineligible from baseball when he was accused of betting on baseball. Needless to say, he denied the accusations while being deemed ineligible for Hall of Fame balloting. Fifteen years later, in 2004, he had finally admitted that he had bet on baseball and often for his team, the Reds. Despite his admitting of his questionable practices in the 1980's, he is still banned from baseball and is still not in the Hall of Fame. Even though he had a fantastic career as a player and as a manager, his work behind the scenes were uncouth in the eyes of front offices. While he is respected for his ability on the field, I wouldn't expect to see him in the Hall of Fame until long after he finally passes. In his case, it wasn't that the illegal practice affected his performance (like if he had taken a drug), which is why I think they may show him some compassion when he's in a pine box someday.

Being a part of something illegal and then denying any TRUE involvement isn't going to save you, either.

Being in denial of a rumor in front of audiences could be detrimental even when the rumor is proven to be false. It's the "guilty by association" effect, and since there was just an inkling of a discrepancy in someone's character, people may think that things may not always be as they seem. For example, there were numerous allegations beginning about ten years ago when the steroid scandal rocked Major League Baseball. Whomever looked suspiciously big or had incredible statistics were brought under question and had a hard time recovering from all of the verbal assaults from the media and baseball analysts. Whether they were guilty of steroid use or not, every accused man was well-established in their career or their hidden illegal practices. It was just a major monkey-wrench just thrown into everyone's business and just became the big pink elephant in the room. Nobody in baseball was safe from being accused in that age. Now we're dealing with people that were accused that are eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's just one big screwy thing because nobody wants to admit that they had been unfaithful in their (what were) illustrious careers.

There is no solution to these problems, and because of that I feel legitimately sorry for those who have made these terrible decision and are now facing the consequences. We are never going to truly find out why people insist on holding in secrets that may either break them or completely destroy their careers. Issues like these can either be good press toward an underlying issue throughout a sport or it can be extremely bad for the athlete currently in hot water. I can understand why people would wish to remain silent, as they are trying to protect their family or their team, but in the end it's all at their own expense and their suffering. Again, it all starts with the person that insists on keeping the secret. It all started with a bad decision. It continued with Big Brother practicing karma. It ends with a major loss of respect, image, and role-models in lives. With that said, how could one live with themselves after the fact?