Whether or not the allegations were true, Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal has crushed many hearts and stirred a worldwide debate. Armstrong, like many other celebrities, has a passionate fan base across the world. While those with a holier-than-thou attitude towards their icons might point out that such high-profile individuals have a social responsibility to conduct themselves in the right manner publicly, the real question to ask here is: How cheated does a fan feel when the icon he has worshipped for years turns out to be flawed?
Liz Thatchet, a 22-year-old law student who was an ardent fan of the cyclist, says, “He is a cancer survivor and a philanthropist. All my life, I have looked up to him, and I still do, but with charges like these, I cannot help but feel a little cheated.” She isn’t the only one. Millions of golf fanatics expressed their astonishment over Tiger Woods’s sex scandals, and music lovers still debate whether Michael Jackson’s child molestation charges had any truth to them.
For Aditi Dave, the sudden change in her music icon Britney Spears came as a shocker. “I used to listen to her songs on loop when I was 13, and wanted to be like her when I grew up. But soon enough, she went into a downward spiral with the drinking habit and drug abuse, which finally reached its nadir when she shaved her head. I am embarrassed that I used to worship her once,” says the 25-year-old dentist.
City-based psychologist Mansi Hasan believes that such feelings crop up when fans believe that their role models are infallible. “We need to realise that they are people too, and most of the time, the pressure to be perfect in the public eye is why they go wrong. Respect them for their talent, not for what they do in their personal lives,” she advises.