Anyone who followed college football last season is aware of Manti Te'o and his mercurial rise to the top as Notre Dame's fierce middle linebacker. If you watched a Fighting Irish game during the team's run-up to the national title loss to Alabama, you undoubtedly heard the heart-wrenching story of loss Te'o had endured during the season... the loss of his grandmother and even more heartbreaking, the loss of his beloved girlfriend to leukemia.
And if you're a fan of dopers riding skinny bicycles through the French Alps you're probably aware of a guy named Lance and his successful struggle to defeat testicular cancer AND all of the other dopers on the Tour de France. And he did it seven times in a row. Yay!
Here are a couple of facts from the reality based universe bound to ruin your day: Manti Te'o didn't lose a girlfriend to leukemia during the season, and Lance Pharmstrong is a lying sack of shit who cheated his way to the top of the sports world universe.
Why we buy into this bullshit says a lot more about us than it does about them.
Here are a couple of additional facts that might help mitigate the shock factor: Manti Te'o's story probably brought in more funds for leukemia research than would have been raised without his fake girlfriend. And no one can doubt the good deeds Armstrong did for cancer research with his foundation and notoriety as seven time Tour de France winner.
But here's another fact for us to ignore: we could have made donations to either cause without having our heart strings plucked by hucksters and charlatans. We didn't have to have sappy stories with happy endings to make us give to those charities.
Whether Te'o was aware of the hoax the entire time is still up for debate. Did he participate in the bullshit story of "Lennay Kekua" knowing she was a completely fabricated figment of someone's imagination? Or were his hopeful and heartfelt tweets and interviews all part of the sad story of a noble young man who was taken in by on-line fraud?
It really doesn't matter.
What matters is the fact that we, the sports obsessed world, bought it hook, line, and sinker. We wanted to believe this fine young man, the first purely defensive football player to ever come within an eyelash of winning college football's Heisman Trophy, was persevering through incredible personal loss and tragedy during the season. It made for compelling television.
And we wanted to believe Lance Armstrong was as pure as the driven snow as he and his yellow jersey crossed every finish line miles ahead of the nearest competitor. We wanted to believe his claims of innocence when accused of having doped his way to fame and fortune.
And somewhere there's someone who still believes Tim Tebow is a virginal testament to abstinence and self-restraint.
Yep. And there's a Santa Clause, and a tooth fairy, and an Easter Bunny, and if you squint really hard at that crucifix on the wall behind the priest at Mass you'll see Jesus winking at you...
Toss another check in the collection plate and feel good about things.