Lance Armstrong Needs a New Tour
If you go to lancearmstrong.com, click on his bio. It tells the story of a man stricken with cancer who overcame that and many other obstacles and won the Tour de France not once, but several times.
Hey Lance, you may want to update your site and take down that part about the Tour de France. In case you didn’t hear, the titles were stripped from you. Also, millions of people are expecting a confession from your interview with Oprah. (Oprah, in a classic teaser move, is playing coy, neither confirming nor denying a confession.)
Why are we so upset about Lance Armstrong? Did Americans even care about the Tour de France before Lance Armstrong? (Not really). Can you name another Tour de France winner? (Unless you’re a dedicated cyclist, probably not). Why are we wondering if Lance can “come back?” Will the public allow him to come back?
One sports reporter said it was possible because “Look at Michael Vick.” Yes, after serving time for raising dogs for dogfighting, Michael Vick is back in the NFL. The difference is Michael Vick’s brand wasn’t based on a story of overcoming a life-threatening disease that affects us all. Michael Vick’s brand wasn’t “All-American who overcomes cancer, starts a foundation to support those with cancer, and raises awareness of cancer.” Michael Vick was already a “bad boy.” His fans loved him for it. So when Vick goes to jail, comes out and apologizes and donates money to prevent more illegal dog raising, and then reminds us what a flashy, speedy quarterback he is, we like him again. Because now he’s a “reformed bad boy.”
We’re mad at Lance Armstrong not because he broke the law, but because he LIED TO US. Cyclists with cancer don’t lie to us. Politicians, hedge fund managers, and car salesmen lie to us. Not only was Lance Armstrong a symbol of American athletics and perseverance, he was a symbol in the war on cancer, one Americans are fighting daily- and we’re taking too many casualties. Lance hit us where it hurt, and he hit us hard.
Millions (or however many get the OWN network) will watch Lance’s interview with Oprah, waiting to hear, “Yes. I did it.” Oprah herself has hinted that he didn’t fully come clean, but that she and her crew “were mesmerized.”
I recommend Lance take the Richard Nixon route. After Nixon resigned, he retreated to California and stayed out of the public eye for a while. After a few years, the American public had much more pressing things on their minds than Watergate. Nixon’s comeback was as a foreign affairs advisor to Presidents, and many argue that was his most successful role.
Lance went to Oprah too soon. He should have waited for the furor to die down, wait for some other scandal, wait for his legal issues to clear up, and then do the confessional, “I’m a real person” interview.
Perhaps Lance’s greatest role can come as an advisor to helping other foundations raise money. We’re still fighting a war on cancer and countless other diseases that take our loved ones from us. Lance has said he’s a competitor and competition for research grants and foundation money is fierce. If Lance can help us win the fight against these diseases, no one will care that he had sports titles stripped from him; they’ll care that he helped save family members, friends, and other loved ones.
Do you think Lance can come back? Are you wondering how your personal brand will be affected in a crisis? Are you now wondering, “Do I even have a personal brand? How do I get one of those?” Talk to me at @BPLoriJ or at firstname.lastname@example.org