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Lance Armstrong visits Nike HQ in Beaverton, OR. with OCC Bike and all the supporters

People who end up living their dreams are not those who are lucky and gifted, but those who are stubborn, resolute and willing to sacrifice – NY Times interview with Jonathan Vaughters a former professional cyclist.

Now that I’ve got your attention, we know… without a doubt Lance Armstrong is the biggest contemporary sports fraud alive.  Most could look the other way on the doping, but it was the lies — all of the lies — years of lying.

Remember way back to 2004 when American Chopper was firing on all cylinders?  There was even a Lance Armstrong/LIVESTRONG bike introduced on Jay Leno. We know that Lance’s net worth is upwards of $120 million and that he turned the rubberized yellow bracelets into a must-have, cause related fashion accessory.

However, the whole set of values that the LIVESTRONG “brand” was grounded in (resilience, courage, endurance, hard work), has now been shown to be a façade after the USADA doping report paints a story of lies, intimidation and deceit spanning 15 years.  It was only a couple weeks ago that Nike introduced the Holiday 2012 LIVESTRONG collection, but is now hoping to salvage it’s corporate image by ending the 16 year Lance endorsement and emphasizing the LIVESTRONG charity association.

Cutting the support of Lance Armstrong/LIVESTRONG

You might think that Lance’s future will be similar to Pete Rose?  A book signing tour – My Prison Without Bars or selling notarized copies of his banishment letter outside Caesar’s in Las Vegas.

Unlikely, because there is always a savvy marketer out there that is an expert when it comes to brand-washing, and will promote it as now is the best time to consider pursuing Lance because you’ll have a better chance at securing an affordable partnership.

It’s clear that his reputation, his legacy and his character were thrown away by the doping.  And, that is LiveWRONG.  I waited awhile before jumping on the “slam Lance train”, but the cutting photo above captures how I feel after being a long time supporter and the shame he’s brought onto the community here in Oregon.

UPDATE: January 18, 2013 – I watched the Oprah Winfrey “interview” last night.   Armstrong offered up at best a contrite explanation of his difficulties… hyper-competitiveness fueled his toxic need to control every outcome… but, there were no new facts beyond the USADA report and it was really nothing more than another example of Armstrong trying to control the apology narrative from Oprah’s chair.  More importantly he vehemently deny that he ever called Betsy Andreu fat!  Sure he called her a lot of names, impugned her character and tried to permanently wreck her ability to ever earn a living, but as a consolation he never ever called her fat.  I’m sure Betsy feels so much better!

Armstrong ran a doping cartel and perpetuated the doping scam for over a decade, was complicit in every aspect of the lies and cover up, sued or smeared into financial ruin and bullied so many “friends” that by his own admission he lost track of how many, lied to sponsors and strategically misled the public to improve his personal finances.  What he did to people was just plain mean.   And this entire “apology tour”, with the media circus and its elegantly choreographed week-long build up prior to sitting on Oprah’s chair was just another example of Armstrong’s need to control every outcome.  Shameful.

Lance Armstrong visits Nike HQ in Beaverton, OR., with OCC bike – Photo courtesy of Beau Hudspeth.

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It started as whispers, but lately we’ve heard more and more about the “R” word.

Recovery of the economy.

Economists are starting to down play the recession and clearly chatter from our D.C. representatives is all about a turning point as retail sales beat forecasts and for the first time in 10 years 160K jobs were created in the month of March.  However, the unemployment rate remains steady at 9.7% nationally and it really looks like the pace of growth won’t drive rapid improvement in the labor market.

And speaking of job growth, Harley-Davidson has taken some of the oxygen out any recovery in Milwaukee.  According to the Biz Journal the motor company filed a mass layoff notice this week with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development informing the agency that it was undergoing a permanent reduction in force and will lay off 94 employees at its distribution center in Franklin beginning June 7.  Unemployment remains steady at 8.7% in Wisconsin.  This news was not unexpected as the motor company announced more than a year ago that it was closing the distribution center as part of a major reduction in operations, with a third-party company picking up parts, accessories and general merchandise distribution.

Clearly the labor market distress remains high and I’m not making light of hard working folks difficulties.   But, if it’s any consolation – plus the fact that this week Tiger returned to the Masters, launched a new 3D PGA Online Game and Nike’s greedy geniu$ made us feel CREEPY for the multimillionaire after rolling out a new ad featuring his dead father’s voice – Wisconsin is ranked among the top states for its ratio of golfers to courses and during this most distressful time, might I suggest a round of golf to reduce stress?  Better yet, maybe you could snag a 4-some in the middle of the day with Mr. Keith Wandell (H-D CEO) who according to a number of press reports is an avid golfer and discuss etiquette or share tips!

Photo courtesy of GoGo Caddy and H-D.


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Nike Clothing Exit -- Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi

Nike Exit -- Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi

According to miss-placed sources the Nike endorsement scouts have frantically been working to strike deals with high profile Scottish “residents” for a new line of casual wear.

The new ad campaign titled “Compassionate Wear: For Those Making A Fast Exit” pitches a 30-second TV commercial that depicts an ailing individual who is released from a “solitary village” in tourism clothing; (white) running shellsuit, prominent black-on-white “Swoosh” baseball cap, and walking trainers.  This new “Compassionate Wear” campaign was first rolled out last week with celeb Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi,  the terrorist who killed 270 (most who were Americans) in the 1988 Pan Am flight over Lockerbie Scotland and was recently returned to a hero’s welcome in Libya after only serving 8 years of a life sentence.  His compassionate release by Mr. MacAskill was due to “so-called” final stages of prostate cancer and having less than 3 months to live.

According to my Nike sources who never attended the unveiling, the new “Compassionate Wear” clothing line needed to send a powerful association message of being “FAST” even as relaxed tourism casual wear.  Ideas by Nike marketing were bullets, airplanes, camera flashes, really fast dogs, and other athletes who walked counterclockwise to turn back time.  In fact, the marketing rep reportedly said the words “fast” and “really fast” more than 72 times per minute.  They also described the use of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle in some of the upcoming commercials to leave burn-out tire marks on the road with tiny flames coming out of them. Fire equals fast…  Other concepts bantered around was something about an exploding stopwatch which was clearly ill-conceived as they were caught off guard by the obvious bomber correlation.

Boycott Motorcycle Scotland

Boycott Motorcycle Scotland

All humor aside — although completely implausible and actually quite offensive, I’m sure Nike wasn’t satisfied with a direct link to the Scottish judicial system and the Lockerbie bomber.  What?  The same company that aggressively fights any sweat shop image worry about poisoned relations due to the Lockerbie bombers high profile release in their logo?   Right!  Would love to have read that letter from Mr. Phil Knight.

The release was wholly wrong and my suggestion is to boycott Scotland.  Tourism and whisky are two of the major economic ties to Scotland.  Each year more than 340,000 Americans visit Scotland – one out of every five – and in aggregate spend more than $425M per year.  Don’t motorcycle Scotland, read Robert Burns poetry, download music or golf the pristine courses.  And don’t purchase their whiskey.  There is a group called “Boycott Scotland” or you can email Mr. MacAskill HERE to directly voice your concerns/outrage.

I don’t know if the absence of Americans on their golf courses will have any impact on the economy, but making noise which reflects the public sentiment has shown in a number of instances to make a difference.

Photo courtesy of Danny Lawson, AFP/Getty.  Full Disclosure: I’m Irish, have no sources at Nike and Pendleton Whiskey is my new friend.

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LeBron James

LeBron James

These days it’s hard to turn on the TV and not hear an ESPN talking head evangelize the many virtues of “King James.”

After the Blazers fell to the Houston Rockets in the first round I’ve been forced to surf basketball channels and find another team to rally behind other than the “bad boyz” of Los Angeles.  Let me start off by saying that I actually like the 6-foot-9 NBA star LeBron James.  I like the way he plays and he is good.  Very good.  So good in fact that he was named NBA Rookie of the year in 2003-04, NBA MVP in 2008-09 and has been both All-NBA and the All-Star every season since 2005.  On the US men’s national basketball team he has won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics and a gold at the 2008 Olympics

At just 18, LeBron was selected with the number one pick in the 2003 NBA draft by the Cavaliers and signed a $90M shoe contract with Nike before his professional debut.  Does Nike know how to pick ‘em or what?!  The Cavs have so dominated the competition this year that every game has been won in double digits, a record, and none of their playoff games have come with any drama.  There are all the no-look passes, the step-back 3-pointers from 10’ behind the arc and the reverse dunks.  Is there anyone else on the team roster that you can remember his name?  It’s as if the arm-swinging cloud of talcum powder halo follows him everywhere. It’s important to note that King James Inc. (LeBron’s wholly owned company) organizes many charity events including the annual King for Kids Bike-a-thon in Akron, Ohio.

Salary_CompareBut in these recessionary times, employee cuts and school district sacrifices along with budget shortfalls the message of collective sacrifice seems to have missed the NBA and pro athletes.  LeBron will be paid $14.4M this season by the Cavs and his annual earnings off the court were estimated by Forbes magazine at $14M.  The enormous magnitude of salary differential really hit home when I compared salaries using the Cleveland Ohio Statistics calculator.  For example, I plugged in an aspirational blogger salary of $100K. Based on 45 years of work per lifetime it would take  6.31 lifetimes to equal LeBron’s pay for just one season!  ONE SEASON!!  Let me bring it even closer for you.  Based on a 40 hour work week, LeBron’s hourly pay is $13,658.93 vs. $48.08 on a very respectable $100K annual salary.  He made over $6800 in the time it took to write this post.  Looking to raise your blood pressure?  Play with the calculator HERE

Call me crazy, but I suspect LeBron isn’t much concerned about today’s US Postal Service increase of a first-class stamp going to $0.44 cents.

Photo courtesy Nike and Cleveland.com.

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Amanda Beard

Amanda Beard

Something on the lighter side…I’ve kicked back and enjoyed the past few days of the Olympic Games because unlike many of you out there I dislike the Reality TV World and I find it interesting to see the physical and mental discipline of athletes who are at the top of their game for “5 minutes” of fame. 

Of course there is no lack of political baggage that comes with the Olympics from the Tibetan advocates to China’s human rights record.

But, speaking of the physical discipline there is no one drawing more attention inside or outside the Olympics for that matter than swimmer Amanda Beard.  She recently picked up a Ducati Monster motorcycle and told Sports Illustrated that she likes long motorcycle rides with brief stops at different swim clubs while doing clinics for kids.

Amanda might be a motorcycle riding compassionate U.S. Olympic athlete, but she’s received a lot of notoriety with an anti-fur ad she did-naked-for PETA.  She took time from her busy training schedule to bare her skin to help save animals’ skins – all in the interest to raise awareness of the cruelty inherent in the fur industry.

There are many people who don’t like it, don’t appreciate it, feel like she’s ruining the sport or giving female athletes a bad name and I’m sure there are just as many who love it, and feel like it brings more attention to swimming.  Say what you will about the anti-fur ad — Amanda is a top tier athlete with accomplishments to date being:

OLYMPIC MEDALS

Gold 1996 Atlanta 4x100m medley relay

Silver 1996 Atlanta 100 m breaststroke

Silver 1996 Atlanta 200 m breaststroke

 

Bronze 2000 Sydney 200 m breaststroke

Gold 2004 Athens 200 m breaststroke

Silver 2004 Athens 200 m individual medley

Silver 2004 Athens 4×100 m medley relay

 

Jewel Samad  AFP/Getty Images

Photo: Jewel Samad AFP/Getty Images

With China hosting the 2008 Olympic Summer Games, the ad may have come at just the right time. An investigation into the fur industry in China-states they supply more than half of the finished fur garments imported for sale in the U.S.  Of course the cruelty of the fur industry does not end at the borders of China.

 

So those of you who had enough spectator badminton, synchronized swimming, ping pong, and trampoline—all which should, of course, be performed in the nude you can send your “Olympic Moment” petition to his Excellency Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong and state you’d rather go naked with, I mean like Amanda than wear fur. 

What about leather riding gear?  I’m conflicted on this one.  There is a lot more info at the Cows R Cool web site which offers up synthetic “skin-free” alternatives.  

Check it out.

Updated: August 14th 17:10 PDTLA Times is reporting that the US Team Captain failed to advance out of the prelim’s.  She didn’t even make it out of the heats finishing 18th with 2 min and 27.70 sec.  Maybe she was too distracted in “pressing-the-flesh” for her cause?  Most unfortunate.

 

Photo courtesy PETA

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