Two big sports stories came out this week, one involving former/ex Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and the other involving Notre Dame football star Manti Te'o. They both make me feel sad and confused.
Lance Armstrong took performance enhancing drugs through all of his Tour de France victories. Lance Armstrong, the guy who beat testicular cancer and went on to win one of the most grueling bike races in the world seven times in a row. Maybe every cyclist dopes, but Lance always, always said he was clean. He had to take hundreds, maybe thousands of drug tests, and he was always clean. But it was all a lie. He admitted to Oprah Winfrey in an interview that was on TV tonight. I didn't watch it, but I've been hearing about it all week on ESPN. I didn't even want to try to find Oprah's channel on my TV. I'm so disgusted with Armstrong. I hate that he made himself out to be this great guy: a champion in a sport that requires so much discipline and skill and determination; the founder of LIVESTRONG, an organization devoted to raising money and helping people fight cancer; a cancer survivor who showed the world that you can beat the disease and be strong enough to compete in the Tour. But the reality is that he is a cheater and a bully. He's not a nice guy. He got caught up in his own greatness and the adulation and the celebrity. He believed in his own legend. Now he is still a cancer survivor and he still founded LIVESTRONG, but I can't think of him in the same way anymore. It's like all those years I watched him sip champagne as he coasted along the Champs-Elysees in Paris was just watching a farce. It just makes me feel yucky.
Manti Te'o plays football for the University of Notre Dame and serves as a team capitan. Te'o was the runner-up in the Heisman Trophy voting. He won a whole pot-full of individual awards this year. He is an outstanding football player and he is a person that had a story that made you want to root for him. His grandmother passed away in September, just prior to the start of the college football season. On the same day, his girlfriend died too, of leukemia. His grief and pained fueled him throughout Notre Dame's remarkable undefeated season and led to all those post-season accolades.
Yesterday, the story broke that the girlfriend never existed. It was a hoax. He never actually met the girl in person. His only contact with her was online or on the phone. So was this a scheme that he knew about and went along with, or is he a victim? This is just about the strangest story involving sports that I have ever heard. I can't quite figure it out. The guy seems like the real deal, but you have to wonder. There are so many bizarre parts to this story that it just makes you scratch your head and say WTF. Did you know all along, Manti? Did you go along with this weirdness to give yourself a story and boost your Heisman chances? This doesn't have anything to do with football, but it has everything to do with character. How can a guy who can get into the University of Notre Dame get duped like that? Is he just a big, dumb football player, or a really caring guy who is easily manipulated or a mastermind of weirdness?
I go to bed tonight feeling pissed off at Lance Armstrong and befuddled by Manti Te'o. I hate it when people lie.