Opinion: Charity and celebrity statuses should be separate

Kevin Griffin

Anne Buie

Kevin GriffinThe effects of Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal go beyond the sports world – now conversation has turned into the ramifications for the well-known Livestrong charity.

Exactly how much support the charity will lose has yet to truly be seen, but it raises interesting questions about the role of celebrities and their personal motivators in our culture.

At this point, it has essentially been confirmed that Armstrong is guilty of doping.

Although the scandal did not involve the charity, it involved its most notable spokesman.


But what happens to Armstrong in the sports world should not translate to his charity.

However, the charity could still be impacted. Armstrong was an icon to many people who donated money to the cause.

This brings up the point of the dangerous correlation between celebrities and charities.

A charity is a serious endeavor, while celebrities are basically frivolous.

When the two come together, problems will definitely arise.

And such is the case for Livestrong.

Armstrong has been such a large component of the public image of Livestrong that defects in Armstrong’s character reflect – unfairly in this instance – on the charity.

Celebrities create a vicarious outlet for emotions and aspirations, so the effect of a tarnished reputation can impact everything associated with the celebrity.  Celebrity culture has a tendency of creating a sense of distortion and a corresponding loss in perspective where the celebrities are concerned.

The image of the humanitarian spokesman is more readily available to the mind’s eye than the often locally done work of the charity itself.

This is a pity, because many noble or potentially noble causes are hurt because of the failings of their figureheads.

Recall earlier this year in the brief emergence of “Kony 2012” and its rapid dissolution, thanks to the breakdown of its creator.

Whatever merits the movement had were overshadowed by the actions of the spokesman.

This should not happen with Livestrong, and in all likelihood will not. It is worthwhile to keep periodic checks on one’s own personal motivation: why are we doing what we do, what are the motivating factors?

The charity should ultimately survive on its own strengths, and the critical examination of our “relationships” with celebrities should help to provide the sense of perspective that the focus on celebrities can so easily remove.

Griffin, a freshman journalism major from Madison, is the opinion editor.