Felice Shapiro is a writer, entrepreneur, and publisher as well as the founder of Better After 50, a weekly online magazine. In addition to being a teacher and avid runner, hiker, and yogi, she is an AARP contributor.
Lance has been teetering from grace for a while but this week he fell off the bike. My Livestrong bracelet is off my wrist until I can create my own separation between the cause and the person.
Lance’s fall has got me thinking about cheating. How is it that a black and white legal rule can be rationalized into a shade of gray? It seems like getting caught is the only deterrent to cheating —at least in Lance’s case. How can that be?
Clearly there is a hierarchy of cheating ranging from outright illegal all the way down the ladder to hand slapping. The severity of the transgression is defined by the playing field. Professional sports offer more defined rules than recreational sports. However, no matter which playing field one is on, pushing the edges of the rules seems to be a sport in and of itself.
Clearly, the fear of getting caught can be enough to keep one well within the boundaries of the rules unless you believe you are above the law.
As kids we were all taught not to cheat (hopefully). In school, the consequence of failure or expulsion, was enough to get me to wipe the penned notes off my hand before heading into a test. The fear of getting caught kept my eyes glued to my math quiz no matter how much I wanted to check out my smarter friend’s answers.
How much are we willing to risk to win? In Lance’s case, he obviously never thought he would be caught. So maybe doping didn’t feel risky to him. What does that mean to believe you are above the law, that you are untouchable and that you just don’t have to play by the rules?
For the spectator, we count on those rules being followed. It’s tough to be a cheerleader if you think the game is rigged. How could Lance love biking so much but willingly jeopardize its integrity? Those medals meant the world to biking fans. I, for one, was a huge Lance fan and cheered him from tour to tour. Now I feel duped. How come Lance’s moral compass didn’t kick in? Didn’t he care about anything but the win?