January 18, 2013

On The Rebound: It’s still OK to Live Strong

By Mitch Howard
Sports Writer

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I’m one of those people that bought a yellow rubber bracelet that said, “Live Strong.”

It never got much use. Not because I didn’t buy into the Lance Armstrong hype, it’s just the only accessory I wear is a wedding ring. Everything else just seems to get in my way.

The bracelet only cost a couple of bucks and was worn a few times when I rode a bike or went running. I liked and still believe in the slogan. When I wore it I did not think about Lance Armstrong, I thought about what the slogan meant to me.

Nike is a multibillion dollar company, but I think “Just Do It” is inspiring. I have downloaded songs from Nike commercials to listen to when I’m running. It isn’t about Nike and this isn’t about Lance Armstrong. Sometimes we all need a little boost to remind ourselves just getting out there is a win for normal people. Living strong doesn’t have to be accompanied by trophies and adoration. It’s a feeling as singular and personal as our fingerprint.

Now if I slip the bracelet on my wrist I have to wonder if people believe I am supporting a cheater. Anyone that sees me run knows I have never touched performance enhancing drugs other than a strong cup of coffee. I don’t really know what blood doping is, but it would not give me the endurance to win a Tour de France. It probably wouldn’t stop me from the epic athletic failures that end up in this column.

But “Live Strong?” Yeah it still means something to me.

I really don’t care if Lance Armstrong is allowed to race again. He can cry on Oprah’s shoulders or win the Tour de France on a tricycle and it changes nothing. To put your faith in athletes, or people in general, is to ask for a letdown. It’s like being a Cubs fan.

People are people even if they think a golden halo glows above their head. And if we put faith in them and they let us down we should feel bad for ourselves, not them. I never put on the Live Strong bracelet wanting to be like Lance Armstrong. It was just additional armor to prepare myself for adversaries I face, such as working too much, eating too much, and old age.

Personally I want to say something to Lance Armstrong. To quote Gomer Pyle, “Shame, shame, shame.”

You have let down a lot of people that truly believed in you. I’m just not one of them. I still plan on Living Strong.