Thursday, 17 January 2013

this is a weird, sad, amazing story

If you're American, you might know it already. Yesterday, it emerged that Manti Te'o's girlfriend didn't die. Wow. I mean: this is incredible.

Except you are maybe British and thinking: 'What? Who? Etc.?'

Manti Te'o was one of this year's best college American footballers. Do not confuse this with being a university player here - he is a major national sporting figure - and in a world of hyperbolic reporting, where some guys get heroised and others get villainised, he is emphatically a hero. Not only is he devout, humble and a devoted student, all his teammates valorise him and his leadership. And there is also A Significant Story: just hours after the double tragedy of losing his grandmother and girlfriend on the same day (9/11 last year, no less), he led his team, the once-mighty-but-recently-undewhelming Notre Dame, to victory as part of a season during which it reclaimed its old place among the elite.

Except no-one checked the story. Until Deadspin published this yesterday. Wow. So, the girlfriend didn't exist!

Now Notre Dame are saying he was hoaxed rather than hoaxing. And you are left with the possibilities that, as this article puts it.

Either he made it all up, or the girlfriend he really loved and mourned was somebody he'd never met. Not sure which one is sadder.

My friend Emily tweeted back the truth:

Yes you do.

Yes, I do.

Yes, but what I thought straight away (and why am I speculating wildly when we will all know soon, maybe?), and other people are thinking it too, is that this is a Mormon sports star from Hawai'i and there seem to be all kinds of reasons he might make up a girlfriend in Canada who gets out of hand. And that is incredibly sad in a different way but I want it to be true so that he can come out in a really amazing fashion. Because that is the way the sad thing could have a happy ending and I am a sucker for those.

(This and Lance Armstrong ON THE SAME DAY!) 

** UPDATE ** In spite of Te'o and Notre Dame saying the girlfriend wasn't real, this guy says she was. Is there a joke anywhere in 'notre dame'. Oh, yes, there is. Not A Dame. Should have used as a headline. 

** UPDATE 2 ** Remember this differently but almost equally weird story? Should have linked to it earlier.


Londonist said...

Despite assuring me this will let me choose my Google account after I submit, this is so going to come up as Londonist. Anyway, I am not Londonist. At least, not right now.

Anyway, in one of my non-Londonist jobs I work on a forum for ill people. I've been there just over a year and even in that relatively short amount of time I've seen four users who've made up elaborate stories and built up relationships with the other forum users, who send them gifts and money and spend hours on the phone making sure they're OK, turn out to be illusions. I have no idea what the truth in this case is, but it happens.

Rachel (not Londonist)

Robert Hudson said...

It absolutely does happen, and I don't rule it out, and as that article says, it would be very, very sad if that is what has happened.

We will know soon, like I say. And he could be this terribly sweet naif, he really could. But it does seem less likely to me, right now, given the timescales and other people involved.