One of the fascinating aspects of the Lance Armstrong admission to doping during his years in cycling is the public response.
From a cultural standpoint issues such as cheating in sports are initially interesting because of the event itself. But equally compelling — or perhaps moreso — are the various responses that arise on sports talk radio; the comments sections which follow the stories wherever they are posted online; and the conversations around the water cooler. Even when that water cooler is the virtual world of the Blogosphere.
The mostly negative reaction on CNN’s web site was fairly strongly worded. And what it shows, more than anything, is that when a person — or persons — feel that they have been lied to and wronged in a significant way, the truth matters. For many Armstrong is beyond forgiveness because he represented himself as a certain kind of athlete who then went on to build a foundation and make serious money based on his reputation, which now it turns out was false.
Many commenters phrased their unwillingness to accept Armstrong’s confession in terms that sounded like the feelings of a jilted lover. And the common thought is that his confession was purely pragmatic: he wants to compete in sports again and he cannot do so without an admission. And, he only confessed because he got caught and denial was no longer a viable option.
The “he-only-confessed-because-he-got-caught” sentiment sounds alot like what people said in the wake of Tiger Woods’ issues coming to light. And it is the sort of thing that drives most people crazy.
That alone shows that the truth still matters. If my confession comes across as a pragmatic maneuver by which i leverage the confession to gain some benefit, then it’s tainted.
This is at the crux of the objections to Lance Armstrong’s confession to Oprah. In the case of Tiger Woods the objection was not only that he seemed to only confess because he got caught, but also because the term sexual addiction got used widely, prompting many people to say that the label was a cop out, an excuse used to avoid appropriate blame and responsibility for Tiger’s actions.
All the more reason our confessions must be authentic and thorough.