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Thursday, January 17, 2013

WHEN IT COMES TO ATHLETES AND THEIR INSPIRATIONAL STORIES, WHY ARE WE SO EAGER TO BUY INTO THE BULLSHIT? ('cause we love sappy stories with happy endings more than we care about reality...)


            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!

           Heavy sigh...

           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. 

15 comments:

notacynic said...

Speak for your self ... ; )

squatlo said...

Notacynic, I often do! No one in their right mind would want me speaking for THEM, so I don't.

Being painfully shy with my humble opinions isn't one of my many problems.

the yellow fringe said...

Love of, gullibility for and exploitation of and by athletes is easy. They represent youth and health and euphoria. 20 centuries ago gladiator sweat was sold to wealthy women, they sniffed it and swooned, soaked their pillows with it. When smooth skin and muscle combines to win the day, everyone gets high, logic doesn't live here anymore.

Katy Anders said...

Damn... Disappointed by so many sports figures.

Thank God that Tiger Woods at least will never let me down.

He's the greatest sports figure since Pete Rose or OJ Simpson!

squatlo said...

Katy, you left out Sammy Sosa and Mark McQuire! Pillars of their communities...

Big Pharma's answer to sports records.

notacynic said...

(I was just pointing out that you were using 'we' throughout your piece; why are 'we' so gullible?

I can certainly read that as you and others, but not all of us. I guess that's the way you meant it?

squatlo said...

Yep, cynical one, that's how I meant it. The royal "We"...

bj said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xxgRUyzgs0

squatlo said...

Ed Zachary, Beej, Ed Zachary.

notacynic said...

NOT a cynic ... ; )

Anonymous said...

notacynic is notmakinganysense

Cokburger

notacynic said...

Yo, Squat. I wasn't really meaning to impugn your style; I use 'we' sometimes myself to make the point. What I was trying so ineptly to say is that I never bought Armstrong's story. And of course I don't buy his 'apology' now. He strikes me as the Barry Bonds of cycling.

And, if you can believe this, I'd really never heard of the other guy until Wednesday, except I knew there was somebody with a funny' name in the Heisman chatter. (I thought he played for Oklahoma.)

Probably wasn't any real need to share any of that, in retrospect, but I do so enjoy being the first commenter and it was all I had ...

squatlo said...

Notacynic, no harm, no foul. I've been a Lance fan for a long time and suddenly feel like a jilted lover... THEY ALL CHEAT! Bonds, Sosa, McQuire, Clemons, half the NFL linemen, most of my college heroes, and everyone on a bike that isn't puttering around the bike trails with one of those "alien" helmets.

I'm glad you take the time to comment, and for the record, you can be as critical as you want here. If we all thought alike it would be a pretty dull planet. Like a GOP convention.

microdot said...

I was never what you considered a sports freak, but growing up in Detroit, what else was there to do all winter long but play hockey? I was literally forced to be on a football team...and I couldn't help but be swept up in Pennant Fever in Detroit...we always were up for a good old sports riot! I am proud of my 1962 Detroit Tigers autographed baseball...I jumped onto the field to grab it then got it signed...The one sporting activity that I have kept active with constantly for the last say 45 years? is cycling. I enjoy it personally, but I always feigned interest in Cycle competitions..I remember when I first heard of Armstrong back in the 90's and I did follow his career and I admit, I believed him when he said he never doped...especially after his cancer recovery...I thought that it was just not logical for someone who had been through the ordeal he had been to screw around with doping. I was indignant here in France when he was first accused of doping, but gradually, the dude himself, his politics, his arrogance and the gradual realization that doping is part and parcel of the history of competitive cycling and cyclists have a history of dropping dead of overdoses and blood doping schemes gone tragically wrong. I have a nephew and a few friends who are engaged in amateur competitive cycling and for them, the gradual crumbling of Lance were personal tragedies...I still am attracted to the history of the sport...Listen to the Italian singer, Paolo Conte's rendition of Diablo Russo, the story of Giovanni Gerbi...his schemes to win races made him a legendary figure in Italy! No matter what Lance did, or the history of the sport, I'm still a sucker for the hype...I was so excited early last summer when I visited the town of St. Leonard de Noblat and we decided to have lunch in a funky looking restaurant called La Barriere...you actually entered through the kitchen and it was like going into a time machine...great food, but then I saw all of the biking memorabilia and a plate inscribed that this was Raymond Polidours favorite restaurant....Polidour never won the Tour de france, but somehow he remains the sports biggest hero here...perhaps just because of that, ne never cheated! La Barriere is a really great little place..and inexpensive. The service is a little slow because I think they still have the original waitresses from 1962.

squatlo said...

MDot, maybe the service would pick up if the wait staff doped???