Lance Armstrong And Manti Te’o: America’s Gut Check?
There are times when you know something is wrong. It’s as if the hair tingling on the back of your neck or the tightening sensation in your midsection is telling you to step away and ponder your next move.
In the sports world we have been recently confronted with a huge dose of wrong to go with a sprinkle of questionable. Lance Armstrong has fallen from ultimate champion to disgrace. Manti Te’o is now a punch line instead of a future first round NFL pick. Just to name a couple of examples. Now is that time that we put on the brakes, survey the surroundings and consider how society should react to these revelations.
One side of the spectrum is giving grace. Conceptually grace means to recognize our frailties as humans. As we see others descend from lofty heights, forgiveness is the corrective course because eventually our mistake will come.
Another way to cope with failure is to enable. Wink and nod being the phrase that captures the sentiment of saying that what you did is wrong, but it doesn’t matter. You are still who you are and we accept that.
Calling for punishment is an option as well. The misstep is egregious enough in the view of society that the perpetrator gets his or her just desserts. In many cases, punishment does not cross over into mug shot territory. Walls of another type are built to prevent ability to make money or separate you from that elite fraternity in sports or otherwise.
Most dangerous of answers would be apathy. Callous feelings toward yet another fraud. There would be no need to care ever again. The patient’s vitals have flatlined. When that happens, sport as a form of entertainment, escape and release are cut at the base.
Suspicion is also a way to acknowledge transgressions. Questions start to circulate about everyone’s credibility. What if Michael Phelps is found to have tainted accomplishments? Are Manny Pacquiao or Tom Brady dirty?
Armstrong readily admits that he was just joining the culture of cycling dopers. His bunch just learned how to do it better than anyone else. The Te’o ordeal is still being dissected with more details to discover before the entire truth is known. Though initial reports from the Notre Dame campus are not of shock but of puzzle pieces fitting.
The Baseball Writers of America gave a clear message on where they stand as gatekeepers of the Hall of Fame at least for this year. That cabal is clearly not impressed with steroid users. Which is a shame because Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens could have been enshrined had they not actually took steroids or been accused of taking them.
It’s actually too bad that Te’o and Armstrong are linked in this way. The defrocked Tour de France winner built his empire on a ruse. Manti’s athletic accomplishments still stand, but his character is now in the gutter. It’s quite possible that mistakes can be forgiven by a majority of humankind. The cover-up not so much.