Reprinted from the Rambling Moron Column at the Platte County Landmark.
IT MATTERS A GREAT DEAL
Millions of words are being written this week by columnists, bloggers, Facebookers and Tweeters about the two biggest sports stories in a decade. Mostly because they are sports stories only in the most ancillary sense. These stories, about Manti Te’o disappearing and/or dead and/or fake girlfriend alongside the stark confession from Lance Armstrong about his decades of deception, doping and dodging the truth.
While the two stories don’t share actual facts, they both have made it to the pantheon of the white-hot glare of Viral Media. These are the “big” stories. Not just the ones that top SportsCenter, but the ones that top national news crawls and include names like “Oprah.”
I remember the first time I was caught up in the all-consuming mass media machine on one of these stories. And it remains, for me, the biggest story ever — It was the summer of 1995 and I was working nights at one of the local casinos. This left me all day to watch every second of the OJ Simpson case. To this day, I can still rattle off the names of random witnesses and remember the madhouse outside the courthouse daily. It didn’t stop me from watching. And I certainly understand the fascination still today.
So, I’m not surprised that stories like the Armstrong and Te’o cases get the “wall to wall” coverage. I do tire of it a little bit, however. I have learned in the 25 years since OJ, that, while not all men are double-murderers, all men are flawed to their core.
I have admired athletes and celebrities only to see them fall to alcohol, or drugs, or countless other failings. I have looked up to people in my personal life that failed to maintain my admiration because of their antics. And if I see one more NRA post on my Facebook, I’m about to drop about a dozen clowns that won’t shut up about it. But I digress.
Everybody has at least one fatal flaw. I am now absolutely convinced. For many, that flaw is suppressed deep down. For others, they wear it on their sleeve or fly it like a flag. But it remains the flaw that will be their undoing.
What I now watch for is how they choose to adapt. For Te’o, he appears to have steered directly into the lie and allow it to consume his personal truth. For Armstrong, hell, who knows how far down the rabbit hole he went. For OJ, he caught a lucky break, but then continued down the path to destruction and today he sits in a jail cell.
Many who are accused, or arrested, or just are caught choose to fight and defend in the face of the truth. In the face of their own weakness.
Just once, I’d like to see someone accept and adapt. Someone who goes to rehab and then doesn’t celebrate their release by hitting a club. An abuser who doesn’t say “I’m sorry” and then beat the snot out of the next girlfriend.
There’s a line from an old episode of The West Wing that goes, “when the fall is all you have left, it matters a great deal.” I suppose that’s why people like watching the stars fall. Someday, I just want to see one rise again.
(Chris Kamler is active on Twitter, where he is known as @TheFakeNed. He hosts a baseball show on KCTE 1510 AM every Wednesday afternoon. Reach him through his web site, ramblingmorons.com)