A Livestrong Movement for Integrity

Dear Mr. Armstrong-

Well, there’s no need to pile on at this point.  You’re having a tough week.  I was never one
who idolized you, but I certainly admired your ability to inspire so many.  I wonder how that “so many” are feeling today. 

I’m writing to offer you a suggestion.  Clearly, you have talents that do not require
performance enhancing drugs.  You built a worldwide movement with a rubber yellow bracelet for goodness sake.  You know how to rally people to fight against a dangerous force.  The first time it was cancer. 

Cancer didn’t seem to have a chance against you.  And you inspired others to have that same
attitude in their fight against the disease.  Now we all see that you should have left it right there.  You didn’t need to win another bike race to be an inspiration and to lead a movement.  That’s when you got into trouble. 

So, what now?  I suggest you take all that you learned from your battle against cancer and apply it towards another scourge trying to take over our world:

The increasing absence of integrity.

The world is really struggling with integrity right now and congratulations, you just became the poster child.  You might as well make the best of it.  It’s time to lead another movement Lance.  It’s time to broaden the idea of Livestrong to include leading an honest and ethical life.

And I don’t think you should do this just for the sake of redemption.  You should do this for the same reason you created the Livestrong movement – because you can teach us how to deal with the pain.  You can instruct us on how to lift ourselves up when we are defeated.  You can show us how to find strength in our weakest moments.

None of us are perfect.  We all have had ethical failings.  The difference is that you tried to build your entire legacy on a foundation of dishonesty.  Young people can learn from their friends and families how to choose between right and wrong.  But you can reveal to them how tempting it is to risk (and lose) your soul for the sake of winning a trophy. 

There is a young person out there starting their business career who may soon be invited to take a shortcut to the top of the ladder.  There are likely thousands of young athletes every day who want a championship so badly that their mind has entertained the idea of drugs.  There are budding politicians who want to be selfless but see so much power amassed by those who don’t seem to be.  They need to understand the consequences through your example.

So do the fraternity and sorority members who deal with their own share of dilemmas and difficulties.

They need to see that integrity matters again. 

Instead of letting your example rest as a warning to others, let it set you free.  Like your book is titled, it’s not about the bike.  It’s about the person who rides it.

So, take that marvelous marketing brain of yours and apply it to this next great challenge.  Get ready to tour the country talking about how you are now trying to overcome a different debilitating disease.  There are so many self-righteous people out there, and I think we’re more willing to listen to someone who tried to win without integrity and lost horribly.

And if there is a bracelet involved, I’ll wear it. 

Good luck.


  1. Sure, put more money in the pockets of the jerk... add to his already inflated ego... and celebrate his awe-inspiring ability to stomp on and snow over the world yet again. The only thing another "come back" from him would teach us is that we can do the worst things imaginable to our own bodies and to each other and end up even more wealthier, more famous, and more revered. He seriously needs to go to jail for everything he's done! Only THEN would his situation be a good example to others....

  2. I enjoyed this piece as well, John - nicely written. My name is Matt and I'm a part of the Greek system at the University of Louisiana. I couldn't agree with you more when it comes to the lack of integrity by the young folks of our world today. With that said, I don't necessarily fully fault these young people, which includes myself, for this lacking. My generation doesn't have a ton of reasons to desire to live a life of integrity. Look at the 'role models' we have grown up admiring: such as the mentioned cyclist, or the Barry Bonds and Michael Vick's of the world. These people do not exactly possess the standard of morality I want my kids idolizing through their young ages one day. This is not to say we have a hopeless future. I really believe the Greek system is a great way to build a sense of integrity throughout our country's young people, that is, if its members are willing to become all of what they have the potential to be.

  3. John, this was a very interesting an insightful piece. I thoroughly enjoyed it. My name is Manuel Luna and I am part of the Greek system at the University of Louisiana. I agree that the world's standard of morality is shown in the downfall of the integrity in our 'leaders/role models'. We all watch and admire those who seem to have it all. Yet when you scratch the surface you see that all the diamonds you once saw shining and gleaming in that person is nothing more than a pile of rhinestones. I agree totally to your statement: "None of us are perfect." My fraternity and Greek community here at UL has taught me that if you want to see a change in your community and the society surrounding you, then be the change. It has to start somewhere why not start within ourselves?

  4. My name is Mike and I am a part of the Greek system at the University of Louisiana. I felt this piece really portrayed how integrity is becoming an increasingly scarcer trait in today's society. I also feel the post was able to show how that even the most highly thought of individuals can have poor integrity.