Time to retire the wristband
July 18, 2005
Think back for a minute. Can you remember the exact moment you finally threw away your leg warmers? What day did you decide that your “Gag Me With A Spoon” pin was passe? Do you recall the date when you realized your acid-washed jeans’ 15 minutes were up? (I can honestly say I never owned any, but I do confess that I adored my Guess? jeans with the knee pockets that had an acid-like tinge.)
To that end, I’m wondering when the 40-plus million Livestrong wristband wearers will have the epiphany that it’s time to recycle the yellow rubber.
Before I proceed, please heed the following disclaimer:
1) Yes, I know that all the money from the sale of the wristbands goes to the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which provides information and support to cancer survivors and their families.
2) Yes, I know that Lance is a nine-year cancer survivor.
3) Yes, I know that Lance’s six consecutive Tour de France victories puts him second only to Moses parting the Red Sea on the list of the Best Accomplishments Ever in the World.
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I’m packing my bags as I write this because there’s surely a clause in the Patriot Act that will allow the government to tar, feather and deport me for speaking ill of Lance and The Wristbands. People who count dialing in a vote for American Idol as exercise become bike obsessed when OLN starts broadcasting the Tour de France (even though the last bike those same people rode was either the stationery one at the gym or their Huffy in fifth grade).
I’ll admit that I bought a Livestrong wristband as a gift for someone last year. It took six weeks to track one down ” every cycle shop within a forty mile radius reported the wristbands flew off the shelves every time a new shipment arrived. When I finally found one and plunked my dollar on the counter, the salesman sniffed at me (yes, he actually sniffed) and informed me that while the suggested price was a dollar, I was invited to contribute more. I actually feared that if I didn’t, the wristband would have been marked with some sort of a scarlet letter.
When VH1 gets around to their Remember the 2000s series (or whatever the equivalent will be to Remember the ’80s and ’90s), there will no doubt be a Very Special Episode devoted solely to the summer of ’04, which will go down in history as The Summer of the Yellow Bracelet. The Livestrong wristband is to 2004 what the Rubik’s Cube, Cabbage Patch Doll and Trivial Pursuit were to 1984. John Kerry even wore one throughout the entire presidential election last year (a lot of good it did him). With Tour Attempt No. 7 underway, the trend has picked up speed again.
And the copycats are now out of the closet. Country singer Tim McGraw recently designed a bracelet in honor of his late Dad, Tug McGraw, featuring baseball stitches and the elder McGraw’s famous “Ya gotta believe” inked on it. The money raised goes to The Tug McGraw Center for Neuro-Oncology Quality of Life at Duke University in Raleigh, N.C. A quick Google search finds red tsunami wristbands (not to be confused with red Kabbalah strings) as well as tsunami relief bracelets in every color under the sun. Scores of breast cancer wristbands, dozens of religious-themed wristbands, support-our-troops camouflage wristbands, PTA wristbands, little league wristbands, junior league wristbands and bowling league wristbands are also available ” you name the non-profit, they’ve got a bracelet.
I do think it was powerful when so many people wore the Livestrong wristbands last summer. It showed unified support of Lance for his physical and emotional strength both at the Tour and in his life as a survivor and advocate. But do you still need visible proof on your body that you gave one dollar to charity last summer? Isn’t it time to move on and give a dollar to another charity? Or, at least give another dollar to Lance’s charity? Why not go nuts and give five dollars to every charity? It’s time to take another lead from Lance and retire (the wristband). Put it in that shoebox on the top shelf in your closet ” you know, the one with your concert ticket stubs, pet rock, mood ring, eighth grade love letters and dried-out prom corsage.
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