It was one of the most compelling stories of the college football season, as Te’o and his team seemed to rise from adversity to march to greatness. And now it’s like classic rock playlists — an Imaginary Lover, Invisible Touch and Hit Me With Your Best Shot triple play.
And we are still just on the top layers of a very twisted story, which was created for any number of reasons.
All this fell on a week when talk would normally have been centered around the NFL’s two biggest games before the Super Bowl, along with a number of highly ranked men’s basketball teams losing.
It’s hard to say what it all means, but it’s just proof that athletics aren’t as innocent as perceived.
Money and exposure has changed everything.
It’s not enough to just want to be the best. For some, it is a driving force to become the best by any means to get the fame, recognition and financial rewards no matter the cost.
We’ve experience incidents — like in Olympic figure skating — where one athlete tried to inflict physical harm on a competitor to make sure she had a clear shot at her fame.
We are finding out that some people will do anything to be famous.
But we are also finding out that there really is no such thing as a role model.
The best targets have become politicians, celebrities and athletes.
One group should be scrutinized, the second wants to be and the third is, just because we can.
Today’s athletes aren’t equipped to handle such a burden.
All athletes are just humans with their own list of everyday problems like the rest of us.
And thanks to our electronic world of today, the warts become evident a lot earlier.
Today’s society loves to find exceptional athletes and build them up, bigger than life, only for the enjoyment of tearing them down. Then we look for replacements — Tim Tebow, Bryce Harper, Jeremy Lin and Robert Griffin III, to name a few.
It took years before it became common knowledge that Babe Ruth drank too much and was a womanizer, and Ty Cobb sharpened his baseball spikes to intimidate. Back in the day, those facts never came to light.
Years later, we found out that Pete Rose and Jordan were gamblers, Tiger Woods fooled around, and baseball players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez took special vitamins to become bigger and stronger.
There are exceptions to the rule. There are some great people, who are great athletes, but it’s a distinction that is learned over time.
So, why do we care?
It could be we all have a little Te’o in us. We have been duped by the romance of athletics for so long that it hurts when we find out what they represent is all imaginary.
The bottom line is we live in a much crueler world now. Before, we aspired. Now, we are happy when we can bring someone down to our level.
Misery loves company.
And dreams, they are only reserved for sleeping.
The fun of being a fan was a whole lot easier in the old days.
Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-791-7358 or by email at email@example.com.
Parasiliti: We build athletes up, then tear them down
Bob Parasiliti (Joe Crocetta / April 15, 2012)