lance armstrong & manti te'o

Lance Armstrong & Manti Te’o

*What a week in sports, huh?

If there was any room in anyone’s heart for that type of deep-down idealism and hero-worship that Americans so often identify with their athletic heroes, well, Manti Te’o and Lance Armstrong went ahead and squashed that with their bombshell revelations over the last week.

First came the rather astonishing Deadspin report that Te’o, Notre Dame’s star and Heisman finalist, had been – in some way – part a massive hoax involving the suddenly non-existent dead girlfriend that he had spoken about during the 2012 college football season. Go ahead and read the report. It’s rather amazing.

Next, came the long-awaited and not-so-unexpected Lance Armstrong interview with Oprah, in which the former SI Sportsman of the Year and former seven-time Tour de France finally admitted to doping (the whole Armstrong saga was satirized perfectly by The Onion here). The admission completed Armstrong’s swift fall from sporting icon, Sheryl Crow-dater and Dodgeball scene-stealer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hb72h8M5L8U) to national joke.

There are two big things to take away from these stories. The first? How about the importance of Deadspin as a legitimate sports news outlet, one on the same level of Sports Illustrated and ESPN? Of course, this is nothing new – Deadspin’s been breaking big stories for a while (take a look at their greatest hits here), and, as a triumph, their journalism victory comes with some egg on the faces of the other two sports reporting titans. Both Sports Illustrated and ESPN were suckered into reporting on the death-of-girlfriend story as fact. It was a loss for those two established outlets, and a big win for Deadspin. Expect them to play an even bigger role on the sporting scene in the future.

The second? Well, as alluded to before, that one is about the complete embrace of cynicism in sports. Can we really fully believe in any feel-good story the next time it comes around? Look at these stories – they sound like movie plots. A heroic linebacker leading his team to the championship game after suffering through the death of his beloved girlfriend. A heroic cyclist battles cancer to come back and win the sport’s greatest honor seven consecutive times. Both of them complete BS. It’s a little disheartening, honestly. Isn’t it too bad that the first emotion we’ll think of when presented with some type of up-from-the-pits story will be Yeah, but remember Manti? Remember Lance? Sports are supposed to make us believe in real-life superheroes – not just expose their kryptonite.