On Oct. 17, 2012, Nike terminated its contract with Lance Armstrong, which was the same day that Armstrong stepped down as chairman of the Livestrong foundation. It was long-awaited news and it wasn’t a shocker. When Nike, who was Armstrong’s biggest sponsor, dropped him, it was like someone removed the Jenga block that was holding the whole game together. I appreciate the time Nike took to drop him. The company actually made a commercial back in the day about doping and stood by him during the allegations. They didn’t terminate his contract at the first, second, or third sign of guilt. Nike wanted to believe that Armstrong’s word was honest, and I commend it for that.
I’m typically not the kind of person that jumps on the bandwagon right away. I enjoy the playing the role of devil’s advocate, especially when the person being accused hasn’t publically admitted to the suggested “crime.” There’s a side to me that wants to believe that the person didn’t actually kill, steal, cheat, lie, kidnap, etc. It’s so incredibly easy to believe the most articulate person who is able to frame the crime just right to make the innocent person(s) look guilty. Maybe I’ve read too many articles and watched too many shows about people proving their innocence after spending their whole life looked upon as a criminal. The justice system is quite flawed and its at the dispense of people’s lives being ruined.
For example, there was a man who sang the National Anthem at a Tampa Bay Rays game in July who was proven innocent for a crime he didn’t commit after spending 27 years in prison.
Brian Banks, a former high school football star, was found innocent after spending 5 years in prison for allegedly raping a girl in High School. He had just committed to play at the University of Southern California at the time and had his hopes set on playing in the NFL.
We could also think about just what IF Jerry Sandusky is innocent. He’s a public figure that can so easily be thrown under the bus, especially with the crimes at stake. The crimes proposed can ruin lives forever and are, in my opinion, upon some of the most horrific things a human being could ever do. But what would happen if he could somehow overturn lies and present truthful evidence that he’s innocent?
Public Relations can play a huge role when people are determining which side to take in a case, especially when the person accused is a well-known figure. If one newspaper or public figure takes a stand on one side, it’s easy for that reader or fan to also sway in that direction. I’m not saying that Armstrong wasn’t involved in a huge doping scandal or didn’t cheat in his quest to win titles. Most PR outlets are saying he’s guilty. I just would like to hear a “mea culpa” speech from the man before proceeding to jump from being wagon-less onto the anti-Lance bandwagon. With some exceptions, the same goes for anyone else that is pleading innocence.