What Manti Te’o and Lance Armstrong Should Teach Us About Superlatives and Heroism in Sports
In the famous words of Dr. House, everybody lies. This may be a cynical way of
looking at sports, but at this point we shouldn’t want superlatives and heroism attached
to any athlete. There’s no need for it. Why can’t athletes just be marveled for their
We’re always searching for the next “feel good story’. It’s not just enough that a team
went undefeated in an era where most teams end with one loss? It’s not enough that a
man won a competition after beating cancer?
Nope, we want more, we want to feel as if these athletes are special, that they’re not like
me and you. WRONG! While money separates us, they are just like us. No need to be
star struck, no need to feel like they don’t go through everyday problems. They live and
put their pants on one at a time just like we do.
At some point we have to learn that athletes don’t really care what we think unless it’s
concerning our pockets. Beyond that they think about themselves just like we do. Their
sole priority is to provide for their family by any means necessary just like us. So if
there’s a lie to be told to ensure that the millions continue to be direct deposited, then
a lie will be told. The problem is us. We think that athletes are supposed to be more
morally responsible than us. We hold them to a standard that we don’t or can’t reach
ourselves. Which is unfair to the athlete. We shouldn’t hold up athletes as the standard
of how you live. That pedestal should be reserved for fire fighters, crossing guards,
people you can reach and directly affect your everyday life.
Major league sports generates billions of dollars, it’s a business first, entertainment
second, and athletic competition third. People want athletes to approach the game like kids
approach play-doh. This isn’t just fun for them, it’s a job and the more fans that realize
that the heartbreaks will decrease 100%. However, fans only see guys playing for
millions ignoring the owners that rake in billions from advertisements, merchandising
and other revenue streams we don’t know about.
However, the insistence on wanting a mythical hero to hold up as the portrait of
all good has to stop. When fans stop looking at athletes to be the standard of moral
authority, and allow them to be real people, everybody will be better off.
The media isn’t without blame either. While it is easier to believe someone when they
deny something with such vigor and and emotion, we can’t let emotions stop us from
Manti and Lance are just the latest athletes to get caught up in a lie, but they won’t be
the last. Time and time again we’ve seen that athletes are human, they do a lot of good,
however they make mistakes too.