I keep hearing how tragic this whole Manti Te'o story is.
Sorry, I'm not getting tragedy, I'm getting its first cousin, comedy. This is a stand-up comic's dream. The funniest thing I've seen so far was from Saturday Night Live's Seth Myers, who reminded us via Twitter, "Those Te'o jokes are all very funny but let's all try and remember that a person who never existed is dead."
Exactly. In fact, unless this kid Te'o is the most naive college student of all time and actually was taken in by hoaxsters, I can find only one real group of victims of this whole story. That would be the nation's sportswriters, broadcasters and columnists who desperately search for stories just like this one to submit to various contests.
Hey, getting the dead grandma story is a big deal. But doubling down with the girlfriend in a car accident followed by her death by cancer? Step up and accept your prize for finding the top sports story in your neighborhood! It's a cliche inside the business... you do a couple of these a year to show people how kind and sensitive you are, then ship them out to whatever contest is next up and sit back and collect the swag. Contest judges love these stories because they believe they reflect an understanding that some things are more important than sports, which we all understand to be true. We all know, for example, that imaginary girlfriends and their imaginary illnesses are much more important than sports.
These contests give no prizes for not being a homer, by the way. There is no prize for merely having the courage to criticize a popular college football or basketball coach while writing for a paper in a small college town. Never.
But if you find that story of the athlete or coach who overcomes deep personal adversity and goes on to success, well, step forward and light a victory cigar.
Unless the whole thing is bogus, of course. In which case you glumly tell everyone how tragic this whole thing is. Which it is, in a sort of imaginary way.