Nike says “Lance Armstrong bad. Sweat Shops Okey Dokey”.
Nike, the shoe company virtually synonymous with “sweat shop”, is dumping Lance Armstong because of the recent controversy over Armstrong’s alleged drug use. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, NIKE!!?? How, in any possible universe, is it reasonable to cut ties with an athlete suspected of doping, yet be totally ok with human right violations in your factories? Chris Brown beat the living hell out of a woman half his size, and not only did his record label not drop him, HE WAS INVITED TO THE FRICKIN’ GRAMMYS. How is Chris Brown the lesser of the two evils? My conclusion? The world is a dumb place, or more specifically, humans are idiots (not individually – some of my favourite people are human – just en masse).
I have never paid a lot of attention to Lancey pants. I know he won some bike races, beat cancer, won some more races, founded a health related thingy that people like, and is accused of doing drugs. I don’t really care if Armstrong took steroids or crack or snorts powdered Siberian Tiger (ok, I care a little about the tiger thing). I understand why people do care and why the truth is important to them. I’m just not one of those people. For the record, I also don’t care where my country’s leader was born or if s/he smoked pot or had sex with a paper bag. Again, this is just me.
Maybe Mr. Bike Shorts did cheat, and that sucks. He also built a community of health conscious people trying to make the world a better place. Maybe the gains were ill gotten, but the end result is pretty impressive. I can deal with him being a jerk face because, in my opinion, he has done more good than harm. So why is this witch hunt so ferocious? People seem to be foaming at the mouth to discredit this man and take all his medals away. You’d think he’d built his bike out seal pups and paved the Tour de France circuit with DDT soaked orphans. The dude is a celebrity and an athlete, a cancer survivor, and possibly (probably) a drug user. If we showed a tenth of this kind of passion, indignation, and thirst for justice towards our politicians, our banks, our insurance companies, and our CEOs, the world would be a different place. Nobody seems to care much when Mr. Money Bags lays off 30 000 employees to augment the bottom line. Ok, sure, there might be a headline or two, some public grumbling, or even a protest (but not likely), but the outrage is watered down and short lived. It’s just good business sense, right? Can’t argue with economics!
This is why Nike will get away with this bullshit, but Lance won’t. The shoe giant did not grow a conscience, it just knows good marketing, and a stunt like this is a PR wet dream. Thanks for making us a buttload of cash, Mr. Armstrong. Don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. If Lance’s behaviour was so appalling to Nike, they should give all the cash back that they made that had any association with the athlete. That would be ethical. That would be taking a stand. Am I realistic, oh hell no. I know that we live in a world where money makes decisions and companies have people to burn. I’m just mad at our double standards and how comfortable we are with tearing celebrities apart.
There are a shazillion people in positions of power, from fast food managers to Top Dog billionaires, that do really terrible things on a daily basis. We all know people who make selfish, hurtful decisions. I wonder how often we call them out? In the long run, whether or not Lance Armstrong falls from grace or weathers the storm somewhat unscathed, it won’t make a huge difference in the history books. Same if Tom Cruise turns out to be a gay gremlin, or Alicia Silverstone breastfeeds her kids into their teens. It’s irrelevant.
I don’t pretend to know why people start riots over hockey games and half naked royalty, yet simply ignore or dismiss the real, world-changing, issues. Maybe we’re tired, and celebrity gossip is easy and requires little commitment and even less work. Maybe we’re scared. Maybe we’re apathetic, but we need to funnel that human passion somewhere. I am grateful for the small minority of dissidents, activists, protesters, and rabblerousers. I don’t always agree with them (hate-mongers are tools), but they are doing what the rest of us don’t: Standing for something that matters.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go kick some soup kitchen volunteers with my blood diamond toed Nikes. I should recruit a few child soldiers for this.