Manti Teo, Lance Armstrong, and Power

We love sports heroes.
We love them larger than life, defying the odds, conquering mountains, and achieving a seemingly impossible destiny.
And if possible, we love their stories to be sappy, sweet, and perfect.
Please, please, please, do not show us any imperfections. And if you do, make it sort of the juicy imperfections of say a Mike Tyson or a Michael Jordan.

We loved the story of Manti Teo. I’m not going to get into the details. Those can be found all over the internet or by reading this one here. But the story of overcoming the death of his grandma, but most importantly, the love of his life, his girlfriend, and despite playing with a heavy heart, leading Notre Dame to a near-championship and an improbable run at the Heisman Trophy.

We also loved the story of Lance Armstrong. Defeating and overcoming cancer to win 7 Tour de France races. Building a legendary cancer-eliminating foundation, LiveStrong. Inspiring people worldwide, all the while turning away people’s testimonies that he was a cheater and a doper.

We love these stories so much that we refuse to believe they could ever possibly not be real.

But see, one of my theories is that professional sports won’t maintain/sustain/continue it’s total domination of the minds and hearts of the world in my lifetime. I believe at some point we will see a major fall in interest/spectatorship/value of professional sports in my lifetime.

Why?

The same reason Manti Teo and Lance Armstrong’s stories were just too good to be true.

No one can handle that amount of power. No one.

This all goes back to the original stories of creation, whether you believe them or not. But Adam and Eve, the first humans, were given literally everything. EXCEPT. They were not allowed to be gods. They could have dominion, reign, enjoyment, satisfaction over everything EXCEPT the one tree God told them to stay away from.

But they couldn’t handle it. It was too much power. And because they had such power, they only wanted more. They wanted to be more than gods. They wanted to be God.

I don’t know Teo’s involvement in this girlfriend hoax. I don’t want to cast Armstrong on the pile of used and now abused sports heroes. But what I do want to say is that power – that kind of power – is difficult, if not impossible, to handle.

The question is: Is it only their fault? Are they the only ones to blame? Or do we need to look in the mirror and ask whether we as a culture place too much value on these mythical stories of our sports heroes? Or, as this article suggests, do athletes simply get caught up in their own narratives and they spin out of control?

Just questions to ponder.

To conclude, instead of those questions, the question that matters most in all of this is: What do I do with the “power” God has given me? Do I fabricate it? Crave more of it? Lust for more and want to be a god or God? Or, do I show up every day and seek to be everything God created me to be for His sake, not my own, with the power He has given me?

Those are the real questions to ponder.

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2 thoughts on “Manti Teo, Lance Armstrong, and Power

  1. It’s all about theater. As much as we’d like sport to be as pure as watching a little league baseball game in our hometown, the reality is that these are productions created for our entertainment.

    We all wanted to believe Sammy Sosa went from 175 lbs to 250 lbs in a single off-season without drugs. We all wanted Barry Bonds to his that magical rainbow homerun into the Pacific Ocean. We all wanted to believe that an old man, post-cancer, could win the Tour de France. We all wanted Te’o to overcome grief and lead his team in tackles. We all wanted to believe Michael Jordan won the NBA trophy on Father’s Day. We all wanted to believe Brett Farve has a career game on the day his father passes.

    My point is that if we all agree to allow theater to be real it’ll be more enjoyable for everyone.

    If its on TV that means there is a producer drawing the storyline.

    It’s never more clear than at the Olympics. Where just before the final heat NBC shows a package about some athlete in a far-away-remote village who overcomes adversity. Just as you wipe away the tears the buzzer starts and you cheer for a person you have never heard of to win a medal, as if it weren’t written in a script somewhere by the same company that owns the Cinderella franchise.

    Overlay the betting lines in Vegas against any major televised sport and you’ll see that they are a little too accurate. The game is always near the over/under or point spread, as if someone knows the ending already.

    Don’t be fooled. It’s all fake.

    But allow yourself to be fooled. And it’s beautiful.

    • Adam, This is such an interesting thought. I’ve never thought of it this way, but I suppose I’ve never had to be convinced to enjoy sports. I love them and get caught up in the stories of them every day (especially Seattle sports). But I like your take. It’s almost as if once we settle on the fact that they aren’t really real, we can appreciate them for what they are. Interesting! I’m chewing on this one more!!!

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