It’s about time Nike develops a shoe which takes into account that all sports heroes’ feet are made of clay. Maybe the marketing catchphrase could be “Just blew it.”
For anyone who has been on a media fast the past fortnight, Lance Armstrong—the indomitable seven time winner of the epic Tour de France cycling challenge—confessed to Oprah Winfrey and her audience of a zillion ladies and four men that he had indeed been using banned substances his entire career.
Armstrong’s unbelievably impressive accomplishments had been so inspiring because they were attained while conquering cancer, a veritable tour de force of human determination and grit. His untiring warfare with the disease rode in tandem with his successes in elite cycling. Armstrong became an icon of superhuman physical endurance and seemingly supernatural determination.
Armstrong’s fight to not only live but live strong became a slogan of hope for cancer suffers and their families the world over. As it turns out superhuman endurance was actually inhuman, and supernatural was merely unnatural. This true-life hero was apparently too good to be true, and has made a tour de farce out of his historic legacy.
But so what?
There is something more sinister at play here than a sports titan toppling off his pedaling pedestal at high speed and struggling to get back on (what with lifetime bans and $30 lawsuits entangling him). We’ve taken this tour before, haven’t we? Whether it’s cheating on the track, or on their wives, our sporting demagogues’ moral failures are predictably cyclical.
Time would fail to tour the hall of shame remembering Tiger Woods’ adulterous affair, Hansie Cronje’s cricket match fixing debacle, or the shuttlecock scandal when badminton duos were DQ’d from the London Olympics for “not trying hard enough.” Disgrace is inevitable when you live wrong. But who doesn’t? Romans 3:10 reminds us that there is “none righteous, no not one.”
When we elevate humans to inspire us we are teeing them up for disgrace, and ourselves for disappointment. That is why Paul told the Corinthians to stop wearing his jersey and remember that it’s all about Christ (1 Cor 1:12-13).
What we can do is pray for Christian athletes, especially young ones. Satan loves to fill his trophy cabinet with tattered WWJD bracelets.
Heb 12: 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
When we cheer Alyson Felix or Tim Tebow, we need to remember that our admiration of them is in itself an unwitting teammate of Satan, which he can deftly use to set them up for his sinister spike. It is not against flesh and blood that we wrestle (Eph 6:12). Prayer is therefore an essential shield against the enemy’s darts that target the exposed Achilles’ heel our heroes all possess; and not only them, you have it too, right above your feet of clay.