Let’s Leave Manti Te’o
And His Family Alone
Whether Manti Te’o Was Part Of A Hoax Or Not, The Fact That Kids Recently Out Of High School Are Put Under Such Extreme Scrutiny Is A Societal Quandary
Manti Te'o. Photo by Neon Tommy and used under a Creative Commons license.
By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine
Jan. 24, 2013 — I think the Manti Te’o controversy brings up a far greater argument than whether or not some Mormon kid was duped by someone ‘catfishing’ on the internet.
What I think can truly be taken away from this embarrassing debacle is a deeper look at the ever thinning line between major professional athletes and major college athletes.
Regardless of whether Te’o lied to the entire country, or if he was tricked by someone, it still seems crass and in many way irresponsible to air this 21 year-old kid’s dirty laundry in front of the entire nation.
Assuming Te’o is innocent, and was tricked into believing that his internet girlfriend Lennay Kukua existed and then died of leukemia, the story of his naivety will follow him the rest of his life, and will more than likely even be mentioned by someone in his inevitably newsworthy death.
I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t want some of the naïve decision I made when I was 21 to follow me the rest of my life, and I’m only 24, I’m still making naïve decisions.
If Te’o was part of the scheme, that changes things. But I think the glaring problem of over-marketed college athletes still shines through.
The amount of pressure put on a player like Manti Te’o is unknowable for regular people, the hopes of an entire university dumped squarely on his young shoulders not only to win football games, but to be their first Heisman winner in decades. For those wondering, the last Notre Dame Heisman winner was Tim Brown in 1987.
Compile that with the rest of the country’s expectations for him to be a stand up, all-American kid who can do no wrong, and quite frankly it is easy to see why he would be lying and trying to make himself seem like more than he is. Why? Because that is what everyone else is doing.
Either way, the media seems to be focused on the smaller issue at hand which is whether or not one kid lied about a deceased loved one, instead of the big picture of what the hell kind of world are we living where high-school age athletes are competing on national TV.
Maybe Manti Te’o is a terrible liar, or maybe he was duped by an elaborate hoax. Whichever it was, it still seems like something that should be dealt with by close family, coaches, and other confidants, not sorted out by the American mass media.
Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. and is currently living in Mesa, Ariz. He has been published in The Mesa Legend and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
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