Monday, January 24, 2011

Why it doesn't matter that Lance Armstrong finished 67th in his last pro race

99.99% of you people reading this had no idea that the Tour Down Under finished today, well yesterday in the U.S., but today in Australia. Something like that. If you are part of the 0.01% who have heard about the Tour Down Under, you would know that this is Lance Armstrong's last professional race ever. If you've never heard of Lance Armstrong, you can just quit reading this and come back another day. No it's okay, I'll give you a summary of his life.

Lance's Story
Lance grew up in Texas. He was not a very popular kid. His dad was a jerk and Lance actually hates that his last name is his deceptive step father's. His mom is legit though. She supported him in everything. She bought him every bike he ever wanted even though she was poor and had very little money to spare. She brought him up to believe that he could do anything and it didn't matter who told him he couldn't do it. Lance started his athletic career doing triathlons and he blew his competition away. He started doing plain old cycling races later on in high school and he kept blowing his competition away. His favorite way to train was to ride in the city, trying to keep up with the lights and running red lights through busy traffic. If you've ever ridden a bike on city roads, then you understand the excitement.

He became a professional cyclist and quit blowing his competition away, especially in stage races. He was a pretty bulky guy for a cyclist, but he ended up winning his first Tour de France stage. The Tour de France is the biggest race in cycling. It's 20ish days of cycling around France and to win a single stage in the race is a very prestigious thing. But he hadn't won the whole tour yet.

One day he noticed graphic details that indicated he had testicular cancer. He had a low chance of survival because the cancer had gotten to a pretty advanced stage. He had chemo-therapy, he was very sick for a long time, but he ended up recovering after the long and difficult struggle.

Cancer was arguably the thing that caused him to be the best cyclist that ever lived. Like I said, Lance used to be a pretty big guy for a cyclist. He had all kinds of power, but couldn't do the mountain stages. Well cancer, that jerk of a coach, forced him to lose a ton of weight. He was now significantly lighter and his muscles were better built for fighting through long, difficult stages and long difficult tours. Cancer also inspired him to be so much better than before because it was one of those things that said, "You can't do it. You can't survive. You'll never be a good cyclist again." Lance thrives off of people (or diseases) telling him he can't do something. If some cyclist does a jerk move, Lance will funnel his anger and use it to help him ride faster... and it works really well for him. The same thing happened with his fight with cancer. It pushed him to be better than anyone else. It also inspired him to start the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a group that helps people who have cancer.

Well Lance won his first Tour de France. Then he won another...then another. The next thing you know he's won 7 Tours de France, which is 2 more tour wins than the previous best cyclists ever. This is very good evidence that he is now the best cyclist ever. Lance's story is pretty amazing, so if you want a good biography to read, you should read his, which is called It's Not About The Bike.

Anyways, The Tour Down Under is Lance's last race. He got 67th place. At first glance I thought, wow, that's a lame way to finish. But on second glance, I realized, who cares? Michael Jordan was the best basketball player ever and he came back for a little while for a less than stellar end to his NBA career and people still say he was the best ever. So it's a common thing for the best athlete to come back for a lame ending, but why do they do it?

Maybe Lance just loves cycling. Maybe he doesn't know how to live life outside of riding a bike every day. Maybe he wants to keep demolishing career records and make it harder for the next cyclist to catch up to his legacy. Maybe he just wants to make more money. Maybe he wants to spend time mentoring other riders. Maybe he wants to learn what it's like to be a domestique who's entire purpose for racing is to help his team leader win.

A quick Google search reveals all. Upon his comeback #2, Lance said "After talking with my children, my family and my closest friends, I have decided to return to professional cycling in order to raise awareness of the global cancer burden." If you have ever seen someone wearing a yellow plastic bracelet that says Livestong on it, then you have heard of Lance's organization. They provide all kinds of resources for cancer patients. Their annual costs for the resources they provide is about 24 million. This is pretty small compared to the Red Cross who's program costs are 3 billion, but it's still pretty awesome.

The Moral of The Story
Now that I realize the moral to the story, I'll tell you. Celebrities, professional athletes, and rich, famous people in general have incredible potential for doing good and it's really cool when you see someone actually doing good with their fame and their money. Lance is the biggest contributor to his charity and he has pretty much dedicated his life to it. Not only does he give a lot of money, but he uses his fame to get others to donate. I think there are a lot of celebrities that have realized their potential to do good, but I am most familiar with Lance's story. He became the best cyclist to ever live and did something very good with that status.

It's good to see celebrities using their position to do good, but the same goes for us. God has put us in positions where we can do good in areas where others cannot. God gives us talents and abilities. He puts us in different areas of the world, different offices and neighborhoods. He makes us fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. We are all in different situations so we can bring good to this world in diverse ways. It's wonderful to see our diverse potentials, but it all goes to waste if we don't recognize our position in life and take advantage of it, stepping out to bring the Kingdom of God to the area he has put us in.

No comments:

Post a Comment