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The Power of Heroism

Written by: Jared Rosenthal and Eli Kleinmann

(Photo courtesy of cp24.com)

Martin Luther King Jr. Albert Einstein. Jane Goodall. Bill Gates. What do all of these people have in common?

  1. Each figure made it their life’s mission to strive for excellence

  2. The four icons cultivated new perceptions amongst all of humanity

  3. They inspired people to fearlessly plunge into new challenges, essentially overriding their individual mental and physical challenges

By no means is Lance Armstrong as pure as the people listed above, but his journey to the top of his sport (disregarding the doping) is what places him on a similar pedestal. Being able to overcome one of the deadliest illnesses known to mankind, (testicular) cancer, and proceeding to win one of the most grueling athletic competitions, the Tour de France, seven straight times, is the pith of defying the odds. When Lance was on death’s doorstep, he refused the invitation and courageously fought his way back to the Champs-Élysées! The 30 for 30, Lance, demonstrated how public perception can change in an instant due to poor decisions, but society can still find a way to navigate a silver lining regardless of the magnitude of a disappointment.

Lance battling cancer in the hospital (photo courtesy of NBC News)

The Tour de France consists of 21 stages which takes place in a matter of 23 days. Herds of cyclists ride through narrow roads, rugged terrain, dampened grounds, unpredictable weather patterns, and a variety of climates. On top of these inherent hurdles, participants in the Tour de France are pedaling at an average of 25 miles per hour! From the countless pieces of footage that ESPN showcased throughout the two-part series of Armstrong’s documentary, viewers truly were able to get an understanding for the degree of difficulty that cycling entails beyond the numbers and recurring drone shots that we see from the competitions each year. What made Lance’s story unique was the strain of athletic difficulty that his sport posed him--and other cyclists--with, virtually mimicking his fight against cancer. Some days he was operating in a survival mode, while other days he was grinding through clear paths. Certain times he was enduring less strenuous adversity, while other times it was a sheer bloodbath. Though, through the best and worst instances in Lance’s journey, there were two elements that stayed constant: motivation and competitive passion.

This year’s path for the Tour

de France (photo courtesy of Cycling Weekly)

Between 1999-2005, Lance Armstrong was the pinnacle of athletes on the face of the planet. Armstrong was merely just a boy from Plano, Texas who had to grow up fast--he had no father and his mother was 17 years of age when she gave birth to him--but growing up at this pace was no easy task. By having a rough beginning in the earlier stages of his life, this factored into Armstrong’s development in a similar manner to other great athletes that grew up in turmoil including LeBron James, Mike Tyson, Novak Djokovic, and Cristiano Ronaldo. By Lance being able to obtain this same level of respect and stardom, which incredible athletes are given through their outstanding abilities, this enabled him a platform to perform larger acts of generosity and display the importance of being a humanitarian at a more prominent level (the LiveStrong campaign).

(photo courtesy of PR Daily)

Yes there are multiple aspects that we can praise Lance for, but let’s not beat around the bush: the man did--in fact--cheat! This documentary placed a larger emphasis on the flaws in competitive sports through artificial and illegal elements, but also showed us how when an industry-defining figure makes a mistake, there is a shock factor which leads to mass alienation of the individual. By ESPN producing this documentary, Lance Armstrong’s image was strengthened due to his blatant acceptance for his wrongdoings, which presumably allowed viewers for four hours to see his cycling accomplishments in a less judgemental manner.

Lance Armstrong (photo courtesy of Bicycling)

Lance Armstrong is a living paradox: his actions were so despicable yet incredible. Though Lance’s fame mainly came from unfair advantages, overcoming the disadvantage of suffering from cancer and putting on a smile--while proceeding one of the most difficult athletic tasks--is a concept that nobody should overlook. The silver lining of seeing how one can be a provider of hope, even if it is for a short period of time, is exactly what makes Lance one of the most powerful individuals to walk the Earth.

Lance Armstrong (photo courtesy of TechRadar)

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