Cancer is not a game, and neither is sports anymore

This has been eviction week #2 which meant outpatient surgery to remove two perfectly round 2cm sized fibroids that were benign but excruciatingly annoying as hell for the last few months. While it was a very easy procedure, it does mean that I am spending a lot of time just lounging around and reading a lot.

As a result, I’m sharing some of the articles that I found the most compelling. One stands alone and then others all follow a theme.

Just call me Arianna Jr as I curate my way to a decent post for the week!

The first is by a lady who I recently started following on twitter and who has already enlightened me so so much about what it means to be living with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. She is @AdamsLisa on twitter and her post is:

Breast cancer is not a Facebook status game

Here’s an excerpt:

Anyone who has breast cancer and uses your FB status update as an indicator of whether you support their cause is not very enlightened. When I rank “how to help those of us with cancer,” sharing one of these paragraphs as a status update is the lowest possible method of showing support. There are endless ways to do that. I think it actually is the opposite; sharing these status updates makes people feel they are doing something real for breast cancer causes when they aren’t.

Those status updates have ALWAYS rubbed me the wrong way but there was a part of me that pulled away from criticizing them because I didn’t want to seem callous or to offend anyone who might actually have cancer who appreciated those sentiments. Finding out that someone with cancer viewed these status games the same way I do means that I will be saving this link to post in those comment threads should they show up in my timeline again.

And now – on to sports! Which is supposed to be a game, but also isn’t so much anymore. In all of these stories, the themes are this (In My Humble Opinion anyway)

1) The media – with the exception of the people writing these articles – is AS MUCH to blame for the spreading of lies as the person actually telling them. Sports writers are interconnected with the leagues and teams they cover to the detriment of actual journalism. They don’t double check anything that might shed a less than heroic light on the players/coaches/programs/teams/leagues that essentially pay their salaries. Fans want feel good stories, owners want the same and so on and so on.

2) Heroes should be people you know, not people you know of.

First a story from last week – the Baseball Hall of Fame non-vote – this will be the first of a few from David Zirin (@EdgeofSports on twitter) who has been speaking my exact opinion on many sports topics recently.

The Baseball Hall of Fame’s Epic Fail

My favorite lines:

The Hall of Fame voters of the Baseball Writers Association of America have made what’s being called “a powerful statement.” That statement was, “we are a collection of sanctimonious, hypocritical muttonheads.”

..while Mike Piazza’s only connection to steroids seems to be that he suffers from back acne. If only he had a better dermatologist, he might be celebrating today.

So yeah, obviously my deep Piazza love means I was outraged that he was passed up when by all accounts he should be a first ballot hall of famer. But, the larger point to Zirin’s post is pretty much mine – the same baseball writers who ignored every sign of steroid use and who wrote of the glorious exploits of these players during the 90’s are now sitting there judging these same players and declaring them not worthy of the Hall due to cheating that THEY refused to investigate!!

Then there is the Manti Te’o tale of an invisible dead girlfriend that again – was aided and abetted by the traditional sports media and was finally exposed in a brilliant investigative report by Timothy Burke & Jack Dickey of the Deadspin blog:

Manti Te’o’s Dead Girlfriend, The Most Heartbreaking And Inspirational Story Of The College Football Season, Is A Hoax

Lennay Kekua’s death resonated across the college football landscape—especially at Notre Dame, where the community immediately embraced her as a fallen sister. Charity funds were started, and donations poured into foundations dedicated to leukemia research. More than $3,000 has been pledged in one IndieGogo campaign raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.


Te’o’s story moved beyond the world of sports. On the day of the BCS championship game between Notre Dame and Alabama, CBS This Morning ran a three-minute story that featured a direct quote from Lennay Kekua:

Babe, if anything happens to me, you promise that you’ll stay there and you’ll play and you’ll honor me through the way you play.

Of course, the bottom line is that there never was a Lennay Kekau. She was fake. It’s a long, well documented post that is worth following to see just how deep the hoax goes – and to see just how easily these Deadspin writers were able to unravel it. All those other “news” outlets – the South Bend Times, CBS, etc – they ALL just took the story at face value and never checked anything out.

Worse still, as we go back to David Zirin – is that there has been a deeper tale of problems at Notre Dame that no local media is writing about:

Crying for Manti Te’o

(Athletic Director Jack) Swarbrick revealed that a private outside firm had been hired to investigate just who had perpetrated this “cruel game.” The athletic director even cried. His behavior only raises more important questions than anything Te’o will face tomorrow. Why hasn’t there been any kind of privately funded, outside investigation into the alleged sexual assaults committed by members of the football team? Why was there no private, outside investigation into Coach Brian Kelly’s role in the death of team videographer Declan Sullivan? It says so much that Te’o’s bizarre soap opera has moved Swarbrick to openly weeping but he hasn’t spared one tear, let alone held one press conference, for Lizzy Seeberg, the young woman who took her own life after coming forward with allegations that a member of the team sexually assaulted her.

Oh yay – a college football program (and local media surrounding it) that is all OVER this FAKE dead girl, but couldn’t lift a finger to properly document two REAL deaths connected to the team. Lovely.

Finally – how could I ignore the biggest liar of all? Lance Armstrong – who, at this point, may be sending some money to Manti to thank him for taking away some of the heat from HIS story this week!

For this, I turn to another sports writer who I have often enjoyed, but who has also often been accused of being duped too frequently by the people he covers (yet he was brutal on Barry Bonds)…Rick Reilly:

It’s all about the lies

It’s partially my fault. I let myself admire him. Let myself admire what he’d done with his life, admire the way he’d not only beaten his own cancer but was trying to help others beat it. When my sister was diagnosed, she read his book and got inspired. And I felt some pride in that. I let it get personal. And now I know he was living a lie and I was helping him live it.

Yup – as I stated from the beginning – point #1 – the media has a huge role in all of these stories. While their purpose is to BE journalists like the Deadspin reporters, they unfortunately end up nearly always becoming part of the story as they let things get too personal, get too financially wrapped up or just love to bask in the same glory of the superstars they are covering.

Which again takes me back to my last point:

Heroes should be people you know, not people you know of.

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