I have to admit that January 16, 2013 is a date which will live in my personal infamy. The day started with mostly everyone in the sports world rightly bashing the fraud known as Lance Armstrong. Then before lunch the surprising news that Chip Kelly would indeed leave Oregon and college football for the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL. And the day ended with news that former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o was part of a hoax surrounding a girlfriend who is, at this point, allegedly not a real person. I have to say, I cannot remember a day in any facet of my life where so many different types of stories all occurred at once. I say all this only to say that, as sports fans, I think we are all victims of an elaborate hoax.
In sports, any sport really, we tend to idolize players or athletes, but it’s time to end that practice. When you were growing up, did you ever absolutely adore an athlete, only to find out they aren’t who they thought you were? Sure, we’ve all been there.
Chip Kelly, now the former coach at Oregon, interviewed with the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles and decided he wanted to stay at Oregon. He went back on the recruiting trail and told a bunch of teenagers he was staying with the Ducks. A week later, Kelly decided he didn’t want to be at Oregon and left for the NFL (confused yet?). Is there a bigger piece of garbage in college football? Of course there is, it's every other head coach. Newsflash: they all say the same thing. Lesson: pick your school, not your head coach. Chip Kelly, the person, is not who I thought he was (cue Dennis Green), but he is exactly who he needed to be to succeed in college football.
Lance Armstrong, the disgraced cyclist, who at some point today, or rather Monday, partially admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he was doping for years. Lance then lied, threw every single person who challenged him under the bus, and defrauded the world of millions of dollars as a “hero” to all many. Lance, in this case, is exactly who I thought he was, and was also doing exactly what he needed to do to cheat millions of people out of millions of dollars after beating cancer. Newsflash: Lance would have been a hero by simply competing after beating cancer.
Manti Te’o, the former star at Notre Dame, and future NFL player, has been at the very least a victim of some type of hoax, and at the most been lying about his girlfriend who is now dead fake. Why he did it, I cannot say. Some speculate he did it to boost his Heisman stock, others because he wanted sympathy. I don’t know Te’o, but if the allegations are true, he is also a liar and is certainly not the high character type of person I thought that would attend Notre Dame, even if he is a Mormon.
Here’s the thing about all three of these guys, I don’t care about any of them…as people. I don’t care what these three or any other athlete does in their personal time. I don’t care about whatever crimes Ray Lewis did or did not commit, I don’t care that Tiger Woods was a slut and this wife left, and that now she’s back. I don’t care that college coaches lie to teenagers, or that people say they’re going to do one thing and do the total opposite. Why? Because I’m used to it.
Think about this, this country has a President that some say wasn’t even born in America. Have you seen the birth certificate? Neither have I, but you know what? I don’t care. Barack Obama is the 44th President of the United States and on Sunday he’ll be sworn in for another term.
I led you down that long and elaborate path to say that, as humans, it’s time to stop being the victim of everyday hoaxes. Put your faith or fandom in things that aren’t likely to change. You want to be a big cycling fan? Do it, but understand for the past ten years the only thing I know about that sport is that almost everyone has been dirty. If you want to be a fan of Notre Dame or Oregon, go ahead. But understand that coaches and players like Chip Kelly and Manti Te’o exist and are out there only for themselves and will use you to raise their value.
It’s time for us, as fans, to recognize that we know absolutely nothing about the people we idolize through sports. The people involved aren’t honest. Hell, you all make fun of Nick Saban for the way he left LSU to go to the Dolphins, but you were surprised by Chip Kelly?
Be real with yourselves, and more importantly, your children about how dishonest people are in sports.
I’m sure there are some good people in sports, but we were all fooled pretty good yesterday, weren’t we?