Monday, January 21, 2013

Feeling Jaded Yet?

Holy cow people are mad at Chip Kelly.

Fans apparently believed Oregon's coach when he said he was not going to the NFL after spending a weekend being wined and dined in Phoenix after the Fiesta Bowl.

Well, that should be the last time that happens.

Sports fans have had their hands slapped a few times in the last two weeks with Hall of Fame baseball players being denied entry on circumstantial evidence they used performance enhancers, Lance Armstrong admitting he used PEDs after years of denials and now this bizarre Manti Te'o story.

At least you can understand Chip Kelly's flip flop. He is moving to the pros and getting a massive raise. It would have been much worse if he would have left for Auburn or the Indoor Football League. I get it though. He said he was staying and left. I even understand fans who are angry because of the timing and the impact his departure may have on recruiting.

What I do not understand are people who really honestly feel like they were lied to by Chip. People surprise their employers with two weeks’ notice all the time. What can you do? Just like Kelly did every time he lost a player, you move ahead. Immediately. No tears. Next man up.

Kelly doesn't owe us anything. He didn't invent winning football at Oregon. Recruits will still come. The game will stay fast. Other coaches can still Win The Day.

Chip Kelly's misdirection is really nothing compared to some of the lies fans have been fed of late. Sadly, the fans were all too willing to belly up to the buffet and eat. Later they find out they were being fed a line of bull.

Lance Armstrong lied to the world for years about his doping. Not only that, he incredulously denied the accusations time and time again. Then, he went after the people who accused him of cheating. The public turned its head and accepted Lance's claims, supporting Livestrong while the rest of the cycling community kept the pressure up. Now, he admitted he was lying. Shame on Lance. Fans lose.

No one was elected to the baseball Hall of Fame because of the suspected use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs. We are talking about some of the most celebrated players of all time being blocked. Clemens, Bonds, Sosa. All three of those players insist they are clean, no matter what court of public opinion has decided. At least in this case the media has done its homework and basically all we are waiting for on this case is the Oprah interview with one of them when they decide it’s time to confess. Probably in 2019 after six more ballots go by. Shame on the players for cheating and trying to deny it. Again, fans lose.

Now, the amazing Manti Te'o story that was too good to be true actually was. The heartbreaking story of how this college football star handled all the sadness of losing his beloved grandmother AND his beautiful girlfriend within hours of each other just before a huge game was a fraud.
This one isn't all Te'o's fault. I think Notre Dame shares some blame, but more than that the Te'o story is on the media.
This time, the sports information people who pushed the story to the media without checking the facts should be blamed. Then, the reporters who took the story as gospel from school officials should take a turn on the whipping post., of all places, got the story because of one move that no other journalist thought to do.

A Google search.

They put Lennay Kekua's name in the search bar. They didn't find an obituary and there was no record of her attending Stanford. All they found was references to the fact that this woman was Te'o's girlfriend.

You could say that none of the rest of the reporters were jaded enough to doubt the story. Notre Dame said it, they took it and it took on a life of its own as the Fighting Irish and their sympathetic linebacker moved up the rankings and into the BCS Championship.

If I were a beat writer for Notre Dame or a talk show host in Indiana, I would be horribly disappointed in myself. Those people are charged with being watchdogs. They proclaim their independence from the institutions that feed them the news stories. They pick at details and file public records requests and quote sources in order to get the story. And then this. A simple Google search generates the biggest and most bizarre sports story since
Tonya Harding's friends clubbed Nancy Kerrigan.

In this case, shame on the media. Fans lose again.

By the way, as a reporter myself, I am just as susceptible to falling for this kind of thing as anyone else. I fall under the spell of coaches and administrators. Sometimes you have to in order to keep your job. But it is also important for all of us to remember that perception is what drives the bus. The stories we have all watched unfold recently are a stark reminder of how easy it is for any of us to wind up underneath it.

Brian Prawitz has been with Brooke Communications since 2002. You can hear Brian on the Morning Report on KQEN and on The Score as the voice of Roseburg football and basketball. For Douglas County news, sports and more, check out
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