My Yellow Jersey
Friday, January 18th, 2013
Just about everyone is standing up on a soap box to share their thoughts about the Lance Armstrong news this week. I have no shortage of thoughts on this issue, and I’m sure that everything I could say about the Oprah interview has already been said, so I’ll try to refrain. If you really want to know my thoughts on the subject, buy me a beer.
Instead, I want to focus on a single and personal aspect of the scandal: the signed jersey that I have hanging up on the wall. Sam got it for me around 2004 and it has a special place in my heart. I always look at it while I’m sweating away on the bike trainer and it helps me stay motivated. I’ve stuffed little mementos in the crack between the frame and the glass to add to it. Race numbers from Rev3 events, pictures of my nephews and a picture of me when I met the “Old Spice” guy.
Over the last 9 years, it has had a lot of different meanings to me. It symbolized Lance’s journey to domination over the sport of cycling and all of his charity and humanitarian work. It gave me hope when my father was battling lung cancer. It represented my own journey in sports and helped me stay focused and push harder when I was training for big races. It became a focal point to always work on becoming a better person than I was yesterday.
With the world rapidly crumbling around Lance over the last six months, culminating in his Oprah interview last night, I found myself rethinking everything that this jersey stood for and meant to me. Am I ignorant to still look to the jersey as a source of hope an inspiration? Is it worth anything to me anymore? How would I explain the jersey to others if they ask me about it?
For today, I’ve decided to keep it up on my wall. The meaning has certainly changed, but I still see a lot of personal value in it. For me, for today, it resembles that no one is perfect. Everyone has a dark side that we aren’t proud of. It represents the dirty and deceitful things that Lance has done in his life. The pain and suffering that he is inflicted on those who worked to share the truth behind his cycling career. But it isn’t fair to judge anyone solely based on their faults, no matter how grave. It also represents the amazing impact that one person was able to have on the world, including millions of cancer patients. An impact that will echo on long after he is dead.
I can’t say that I’m proud of everything that I’ve done in my life. My faults may not go as deep as Lance’s, but I can’t hold a candle to the positive impact that he has had on the cancer community.
Tomorrow, my thoughts may change. But for today, my yellow jersey is a reminder to work on being a better person today than I was yesterday.