Super Bowl XLVII will be the first time in history that two brothers have faced each other as head coaches in the NFL championship game. John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, will take on younger brother Jim and his 49ers on Feb 3rd, for what promises to be one of the best feel-good moments of the year.
Everyone loves the warm and fuzzy stories in sports. They’re part of what makes playing and watching them so great. I still tear up when I watch Rudy (big, manly tears). But now, in 2013, fans are being continuously let down with the disappointing truths behind it all.
First, Lance Armstrong admitted in an exclusive interview (with Oprah Winfrey, of all people) that he used performance-enhancing drugs to help him win Seven Tour De France titles. The confession came after years of heated denials and lying right to the public’s face. What was once one of the most inspiring stories in sports, ‘Man Overcomes Cancer to Become a Champion,’ turned out to be about as good as a used napkin. Not only did the fallen hero use the drugs himself, but he was the villain, using fear and intimidation to bring a dark cloud over the entire sport of cycling.
Then, as if not to be outdone, the debacle of Manti Te’o’s girlfriend hoax came out, and the hysteria that followed caused fans everywhere to question athletes’ sincerity. How could someone be so gullible as to fall in love with a person they’ve never met? To believe they still existed, even after receiving a call from their number five months after their supposed death? You can’t make that stuff up... Or can you?
Sports heroes have always had flaws. Make no mistake about it, they’re human. But in the past, they’ve always seemed to be more honest about it. Athletes didn’t feel the need to sweep things under the rug and fool us into thinking they were perfect. Joe DiMaggio hung out with “Wise Guys”. Dr. J was an adulterer. Michael Irvin had a cocaine problem. However, what you saw is what you got, and their accolades on the field and on the court weren’t tainted with a lie.
Sports fans, in general, are very forgiving people. They’re willing to look past an athlete’s personal troubles and love them for how they play the game (look at Ray Lewis. Dude could get away with murder). But what fans can’t stand, what they abhor, is a continuous lie. To lay all the facts on the table and have their sports heroes look them right back in the face and tell them “it’s not true.”
It seems it’s getting harder and harder to believe in feel-good stories anymore. An athlete breaks all the records, he’s doping. Someone overcomes a tragic loss to perform at a higher level, it’s a lie. When did the truth become so hard to find?
I hope this year’s Super Bowl will finally be a chance for fans to sit back and enjoy the sincere goodness of sports. Being let down time after time gets really old really fast. Let’s just hope Deadspin.com doesn’t come out with a report saying the Harbaugh brothers are cousins.
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