It’s been hanging on my wall for a couple of years, the Nike “What am I on…” Lance Armstrong poster. Today I took it down.
Originally I hung it on my office wall because I liked the message of training to improve yourself. I also slipped keepsakes from races: route maps, rider’s numbers, my Cross Vegas number, a certificate from the 2008 L’Etape I’d done in France, and various media stickers from races underneath the clear plastic cover.
However, peeking out from behind these pleasant bike related memories was Armstrong. Even though his helmeted head was still nothing more to me than a pin-prick of color like one from Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” – just one hue in a sea of many – it was starting to bug the shit out of me.
I’d written in a post almost two years ago that I was leaving the poster hanging on my office wall regardless of Armstrong’s doping as the message meant more to me than the man. Before I published my post I emailed Biola Assistant University professor of biblical and theological studies Jeff Volkmer about the poster as someone who I could bounce a philosophical idea off of. His reply which I included in that post was:
“Have you heard of ‘The Treachery of Images and the painting, This is not a pipe?’ .” Admittedly I wasn’t probably 100% awake during all my philosophy classes but it did ring a bell.
Basically the painting is of a pipe, but the point of the message beneath the pipe is that it is an image of a pipe, not an actual pipe. And that’s what the Armstrong poster is to me – “This is not an Armstrong.”
Maybe it has been the accumulation of my distain of Armstrong. Or maybe watching “The Real Price of Winning at All Costs” discussion was the final tipping point. Whatever the case may be Armstrong, in my eyes, had become Armstrong. He was no longer the image (The Pipe) of what training could be, instead he was the antithesis of a true athlete.
So today I took down the Armstrong framed poster and in its place hung a banner from the U.S. Pro Championships. I have a lot of good memories from that race so it feels right to have it in my office.
I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my keepsakes. Maybe I’ll get a photo album and arrange them in there. Maybe I’ll just file them away. Who knows…