While waiting for Oprah’s overly hyped interview with Lance Armstrong way back in January, I played the dizzyingly, addictive Fruit Ninja on the iPad against my 11 year-old. While James showed me how to choose different blades to slice fruit like his favorite the shadow and my new favorite the rainbow (there are many more like water, calligraphy, king dragon, and firecracker), he left out a few important rules of game play: 1) swipe all fruit because ninjas hate fruit 2) don’t drop fruit; three dropped pineapples, bananas, strawberries, or anything resembling fruit, and you’ve lost the game (not to mention your mind); 3) avoid the bombs (need I say more) and 4) hope for random criticals, which give you bonus points (who knew fruit could be both random and critical?).
After several minutes of maniacally swiping my finger back and forth across the screen and losing every game, I was exhausted. With fruit bouncing on my brain, I turned my attention to the epic fall of world-class cyclist Lance Armstrong who sat across from Oprah, wielding her mighty notecard blade. James, however, got bored with the interview. Kids have pretty good BS meters. And there was a lot of BS during Oprah’s interrogation.
Armstrong did not make sensei proud.
A flawed hero is how Armstrong referred to himself during the interrogation. Armstrong was an elite athlete among other elite athletes when a millisecond would make a difference in whether you win or lose a race (or slice fruit). Because Armstrong believed that second place wasn’t an option, he made a choice. He knew other athletes were taking drugs to boost their performance. So he took drugs, too. He figured that he might be able to beat them at the game if he was on a level playing field. Why should he try to stop something that he knew was wrong (and spoke out against) when he could master it?
How is that honorable?
I believe Armstrong was addicted to winning and did everything he could to win no matter what the consequence. He became a compulsive liar to cover up the shame of using performance-enhancing drugs. He drove away the people who loved and admired him because he wanted to win.
The vibrant and glorious words once associated with Lance Armstrong are bruised and oozing fruit juice, however, they’re woven into his DNA. Words like cyclist, triathlete, humanitarian, cancer survivor, father, and friend remain on the wood block. Add to that list: addict, cheater, liar, jerk, bully, and you have a tragic figure with an egregious error of judgment.
The Fruit Ninja Redemption
In playing Fruit Ninja I found many lessons that I could apply to my life. As I chewed a slice of apple, I thought that perhaps Lance Armstrong could find redemption (or eternal purgatory) in playing Fruit Ninja. Unlike my 11 year-old, I’m sharing the rules ahead of time, not so Armstrong can win, but so he might learn.
1) Swipe all fruit. In swiping fruit admit that you’re powerless against your addiction to winning.
2) Don’t drop fruit. Dropping fruit is like relapse. It’s bound to happen, but you need to commit to swiping fruit again.
3) Avoid the bombs. Avoid the usual suspects that might trigger a relapse in wanting to win.
4) Hope for random criticals. Make amends to the people you’ve harmed, and hope for their forgiveness.