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Is football as corrupt as Catholicism?

I don’t know, it seems like the same stories: priests raping people, football stars raping people, neither one being held accountable. And what happens when you combine Catholicism and football? You get Notre Dame. You get cover-ups and suppression. You get this bizarre Manti Te’o publicity stunt.

mantigod

Maybe we need to stop believing in football as much as we need to stop believing in gods.

Comments

  1. Ogvorbis says

    Well, Catholicism and football both have a win-at-any-cost, a-few-of-you-may-die-but-that-is-a-risk-I-am-willing-to-take attitude. So what if a videographer dies? as long as the practice is filmed, we can mourn later. So what if a young woman is raped and commits suicide? as long as the team gets its six victories to qualify for a bowl game, we can investigate later (or (preferably) never). So what if your student athletes are subjecting their brains to massive decelerations multiple times a day? as long as he’s getting that free education, he has no right to complain. So what if priests are raping small children as long as they can recruit a few more into the fold, all is good.

    Manti Teo’s publicity stunt is small potatoes BUT that is the story that will actually get the press because the other stuff damns collegiate (and high school, and junior high, and Pop Warner) football’s very core and reason for being. Teo was just trying to win a trophy so he could be drafted higher and make a few more bucks before his body is destroyed for my entertainment.

  2. jamessweet says

    I just want to say, I think it’s waaaay too early to declare this is a publicity stunt perpetrate by Te’o. It’s entirely plausible that he was a dupe all the way until late December. There are other possibilities as well.

    One thing is for sure, this story is totally fucked. And it may well turn out Te’o was the perpetrator. But I’m not so convinced just yet…

  3. Rip Steakface says

    It’s really terrible that football is so full of assholes and douchebaggery. It’s an extremely fun sport for many (I love playing it), but little else. Perhaps if we had a proper minor league or farm system for football, we could avoid destroying students and institutions in its name. Perhaps that would just result in greater losses in high school, or not even affect the environment in universities.

    The core problem is probably the incredible focus paid, unearned, to the sport. It’s fun, but it’s not worth what we’re doing to schools, to young adults, and to the people around it.

  4. Ogvorbis says

    I just want to say, I think it’s waaaay too early to declare this is a publicity stunt perpetrate by Te’o. It’s entirely plausible that he was a dupe all the way until late December. There are other possibilities as well.

    One thing is for sure, this story is totally fucked. And it may well turn out Te’o was the perpetrator. But I’m not so convinced just yet…

    I admit that there may be a remote possibility that he was a victim of a hoax. A hoax that had the potential to benefit Te’o.

    Football, though, as it stands, today, in the USA, is a malignancy that can, and will, destroy schools, teachers, students, and players. Time and again, when a coach of a big time football school has to make a choice between preserving the programme or doing the right thing, they make the wrong choice.

  5. pascale68 says

    I have to admit I am having a hard time understanding this story, it seems way too bizarre.

    One thing I don’t understand – even if he was not in on the hoax, wouldn’t he have wanted to go to the funeral? Even if it was an internet relationship, if he cared about her enough to make a big deal out of it to the press, why would he just send flowers and not be there?

    In any case, this shows how much you cannot trust the press. Did not one source try to check on her information?

  6. Ogvorbis says

    wouldn’t he have wanted to go to the funeral?

    (assuming she was real) He may not have been able to afford to go to the funeral. The NCAA has extremely strict limitation on the finances of student athletes (even those not on scholarship) to avoid rich alumnae giving high-paying jobs to football and basketball players (oddly, other sports rarely get mentioned when it comes to financial impropriety) at which they never show up but still get paid. If Te’o’s family didn’t have the money to fly him in for a funeral, if someone had offered to pay his air fare he would have been required by the NCAA to report the attempt of an illegal gift.

  7. says

    C’mon, PZ, you’re better than this. If T’eo is proven to be part of the hoax, then go after him. But this kind of guilty until proven innocent stuff is more appropriate for and ass like Nancy Grace than you. I’m not a football fan and had barely heard of T’eo before this, but the stampede to destroy him before anyone is sure what happened seems awfully unfair.

  8. Gregory Greenwood says

    I sometimes think that America is actually a society dominated by a polytheistic subcult of christianity.

    It has that nasty Yahweh type, sure, but there is also the deification of guns, gun ownership, and the whole toxic ‘a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do’ culture that leads millions of Americans to live under the curious delusion that they are actually one of those under evolved, gun-toting idiot characters habitually portrayed by John Wayne or Clint Eastwood.

    There is also former President Bush – pretty much the messiah if you listen to many Republicans.

    The myth of American exceptionalism.

    American football culture that would have you believe that football stars can walk on water, and that when they rape people it is just ‘boys being boys’ – the price of having that all important winning team.

    And let’s not forget teh mighty peen.

    These all seem to be gods to many Americans, though they are not necessarily ranked in importance in this order…

  9. Ogvorbis says

    Mike Hamilton:

    If you click on the link throughs in PZed’s piece, you will see that the Manti Teo part of it is minor compared to the negligent death of a videographer and the rape and subsequent suicide of a student. Both deaths laid directly at the doorstep of the Notre Dame football god.

  10. says

    Ogvorbis:

    I was talking specifically about PZ’s words equating the T’eo thing with people raping other people, etc. If it was indeed a hoax and T’eo was taken in, then what reason would PZ have to put his name in the post? Last time I looked, being naive and gullible was something less of a crime than rape, and for all we know that’s all he’s guilty of. Is there some reason that we can no longer give anyone the benefit of the doubt until it’s proved that they don’t deserve it?

    This is one of the big problems with the Web/24 hour news cycle…people’s reputations are destroyed before the facts are known. Remember Gary Condit?

  11. Pteryxx says

    If you click on the link throughs in PZed’s piece, you will see that the Manti Teo part of it is minor compared to the negligent death of a videographer and the rape and subsequent suicide of a student. Both deaths laid directly at the doorstep of the Notre Dame football god.

    Compared directly here, to make it even clearer: (warning for rape and bullying at the link) (thanks Portia)

    http://www.salon.com/2013/01/17/notre_dames_double_standard/

    Less than a day into the Manti Te’o revelations, we’ve heard more about a fake dead girlfriend of a Notre Dame football player than a real dead girl. Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide, not long after being intimidated by Notre Dame football players for reporting a sexual assault by one of their teammates. A second woman who was taken to the hospital for a rape exam declined to formally accuse another Notre Dame football player after getting a series of bullying texts from players.

    The handful of people who immediately took note of the contrast in the attention — both by the press and by the university — are absolutely right to be angry. But no one should be surprised.

    [...]

    Dave Zirin, who has long called for the Notre Dame football program to be shut down as irredeemably corrupt, pointed out that the university had hired a private investigator for the Te’o case but not the numerous other allegations of wrongdoing by players. Zirin said of the school’s athletic director, “It says so much that Te’o’s bizarre soap opera has moved [Jack] Swarbrick to openly weeping but he hasn’t spared one tear, let alone held one press conference, for Lizzy Seeberg … The problem at Notre Dame is not just football players without a compass; it’s the adults without a conscience.”

  12. Ogvorbis says

    Is there some reason that we can no longer give anyone the benefit of the doubt until it’s proved that they don’t deserve it?

    My thinking is, is there some reason the media is focusing on a really minor episode of either hoax or stupidity and flat out ignoring the people who actually died?

  13. says

    PZ’s post didn’t say “You get this bizarre media focus on the Manti Te’o incident.” It says “You get this bizarre Manti Te’o publicity stunt.” I see a difference there.

  14. Alverant says

    To answer the question in the post topic; no football is not as corrput as catholicism. This is primarily for two main reasons. Football has not been around as long and it has fewer institutions world wide.

  15. gregpeterson says

    I agree, Mike. From what I heard on NPR this morning, it is at least an open question whether it was s stunt or whether Manti Te’o was just easily deluded. They seem to think gullability was the most likely explanation, although the fact that his father had a story about their meeting was pretty fishy.

    And I’m not giving up my love of football. Do I support all the cutlural BS that goes with it? Of course not. But if I’m not mistaken, some of the music I love was created by assholes, too. And Thomas Jefferson advanced Enlightenment ideals but was sort of a douche personally. I’m able to separate in my mind a condemnation for homophobia, misogyny, arrogance and the like from my appreciation for a “poetry in motion” 65-yard open field run by Adrian Peterson. I bet a lot of people are.

  16. dean says

    He may not have been able to afford to go to the funeral.

    Apparently he was able to visit Hawaii a few times.

    “They started out as just friends,” Brian Te’o said, according to the newspaper. “Every once in a while, she would travel to Hawaii, and that happened to be the time Manti was home, so he would meet with her there. But within the last year, they became a couple.”

  17. bcmystery says

    The notion that Te’o is the innocent victim of a hoax is laughable in light of his own past public statements about his Fake Dead Girlfriend, and that doesn’t even consider the fact that he had months to correct the record about the South Bend Tribune’s reporting of first meeting with FDG but couldn’t be bothered. Maybe he never got around to reading that little piece of melodramatic tripe in Notre Dame’s PR rag, er, I mean the local press. Riiiiight.

    Still, as Ogvorbis rightly points out, this ridiculous story is a sideshow compared to the real horrors connected to the ND football program (and no doubt many other major college athletic programs). I don’t wonder if that human shitstain Swarbrick didn’t jump on this story like a life preserver. It’s perfect misdirection. “Look, we’re the real victims here. Pay no attention to the dead bodies and rape victims behind the curtain.”

  18. w00dview says

    Gregory Greenwood:

    There is also former President Bush – pretty much the messiah if you listen to many Republicans.

    Bush is a mere saint compared to the ultimate saviour of the wingnuts, Ronnie Reagan.

    Speaking of Reagan, you forgot the other American deity: the invisible hand of the free market. Trickle down economics is religious delusion at its finest.

  19. omnicrom says

    Well this helpful NBC article Over here points out the bizarre holes in the Te’o fake Girlfriend story. I’m sort of leaning towards this being just a publicity stunt.

  20. Rob Grigjanis says

    Rip @4: “It’s really terrible that football is so full of assholes and douchebaggery”

    I think football in America is just one example of a global sports culture. For any major professional sport, boys with the “right stuff” are groomed from a very young age, treated as idols by their peers, given a sense of entitlement by their “mentors”, and reach adulthood thinking they can do no wrong. I think this applies to basketball in the US, soccer in Europe and South America, rugby in the Southern Hemisphere (and parts of Europe) and hockey in Canada, cricket in India and Pakistan, etc.. Boys encouraged to be assholes will often, but not always, end up that way.

    And of course, the sports culture is just a particular manifestation of the state of society at large.

  21. Gregory Greenwood says

    w00dview @ 22;

    Bush is a mere saint compared to the ultimate saviour of the wingnuts, Ronnie Reagan.

    Speaking of Reagan, you forgot the other American deity: the invisible hand of the free market. Trickle down economics is religious delusion at its finest.

    Very true – the Republicans pretty much seem to worship the trinity of Yahweh, Reagan and the Holy Invisible Hand.

  22. sharculese says

    To answer the question in the post topic; no football is not as corrput as catholicism. This is primarily for two main reasons. Football has not been around as long and it has fewer institutions world wide.

    This.

    I mean, yeah, football, especially college football, is incredibly corrupt and enables all sorts of disgusting behavior, but you can’t compete with that multi-century head start.

  23. Rip Steakface says

    I think football in America is just one example of a global sports culture. For any major professional sport, boys with the “right stuff” are groomed from a very young age, treated as idols by their peers, given a sense of entitlement by their “mentors”, and reach adulthood thinking they can do no wrong. I think this applies to basketball in the US, soccer in Europe and South America, rugby in the Southern Hemisphere (and parts of Europe) and hockey in Canada, cricket in India and Pakistan, etc.. Boys encouraged to be assholes will often, but not always, end up that way.

    I don’t know about the treatment as idols by their peers. There’s always a significant contingent of people who hold a great amount of spite for any sports players, and football in particular. I don’t know as well as many people, given I’ve side-stepped most of high school through WA’s Running Start program, but I do know that most people consider the football and basketball players to be annoying, entitled shits, with a few exceptions.

  24. don1 says

    In the UK we don’t fetishise high school and college sports, but there is still a sick culture around sports stars. A few years ago my best friend’s daughter, a student at the time, was in a Newcastle night-club when she and her friends were hit on by a premiership footballer. They are very attractive and poised young women.

    He invited them over to his table, they politely declined. He explained who he was but they continued to decline and when he became insistent on knowing why one of them said, ‘Because you are a racist thug and we don’t want to drink with you.’ (That wasn’t random abuse, anyone familiar with English football could guess the player.) He left.

    Five minutes later they were told to leave the club. They were told the only reason they were there was to be nice to the football players.

    She told us later that it was a bit of an epiphany. They had all happily queued along the red rope and had spent time on looking good to get into the most glam club in town and felt great when they were nodded through. Yay, we’re fabulous enough for the best place in town! When you are twenty that can be fun, (probably, I wouldn’t know from personal experience).

    Then it was forcibly pointed out to her that she had been waved through as footballer fodder and not as a fabulous person in her own right. And yes, she did have a bit of a sheltered childhood, but that power play changed her perceptions in a moment.

    (I’m not guessing about that; she is very articulate.)

  25. Rob Grigjanis says

    Idols are never universally loved. Think Justin Bieber or any celebrity. In fact, maybe ‘celebrity’ would be a better term. They are known, and they know they are known.

  26. Rob Grigjanis says

    My 29 was for Rip @27.

    don1 @28: John Terry?

    It’s true that developing footballers in the UK don’t have the same high profile as college or even high school athletes in the US, but they still get their feeling of entitlement at a young age.

  27. blitzgal says

    He and his father are both on record saying that he visited her several times in Hawaii. So how could he possibly be the victim and not the perpetrator of this hoax?

  28. Sven says

    Over the summer I got back into the online dating scene, and started chatting up this girl, Laura, by email. We talked and talked over a couple weeks and then I asked her out. She had to cancel on the date last minute (something came up at the office), so we rescheduled.
    On attempt number 2, I drove an hour to a location close to her, for her convenience. When I got there, I got a text saying she couldn’t make it. Annoyed, I cut off the “relationship”, which never really became a relationship to begin with.
    Months later, home with the folks for Christmas, I mentioned my story to my sister.
    “Sounds like you got catfished.”
    “What?”
    “It’s when people impersonate girls on dating sites to prank on guys. They call it catfishing.”

    PZ, this isn’t about football and this isn’t about corruption. This is about a lovestruck college kid who got humiliated by someone’s cruel idea of a joke, and a gullible media who bought it just as badly as he did.

  29. says

    I think I should start describing football (and probably most organized sports, but football in particular) as unwholesome whenever the topic comes up, like it’s something people don’t discuss in polite company or during a meal.

  30. dannysichel says

    I’ve seen speculation — which, I must point out, is unsubstantiated and entirely circumstantial– that Mr Te’o may be gay, and as such may have devised the Phony Girlfriend (or had her devised for him) so as to explain why he wasn’t dating any more closely available girls.

    Regardless of the rationale, the feature on Deadspin pretty clearly indicates that Te’o was in on it.

  31. The Mellow Monkey says

    My first thought about the dead girlfriend hoax was how it sounded exactly like the story an ex-girlfriend of mine told people about her “internet boyfriend” to cover up her relationships with other girls and keep her evangelical Christian family in the dark. Her imaginary boyfriend died in a car crash when things got out of hand and her family expected him to move closer to her.

    I just have a hard time passing too much judgment on this guy. It could be a trick done for publicity, or it could be a little lie meant to protect something that then blew up.

  32. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Notre Dame cares more about a fake dead girl than a real one

    Less than a day into the Manti Te’o revelations, we’ve heard more about a fake dead girlfriend of a Notre Dame football player than a real dead girl. Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide, not long after being intimidated by Notre Dame football players for reporting a sexual assault by one of their teammates. A second woman who was taken to the hospital for a rape exam declined to formally accuse another Notre Dame football player after getting a series of bullying texts from players.

  33. inflection says

    I’d put my money on Manti being the victim of a cruel prank. There are people I consider rather good friends that I’ve only ever met or corresponded with via the Internet. Of course, all of them would have had to be either on it or duped for years at this point, to no particular reason, but for a semester, and dealing with a youngster, it’s certainly possible. Some people just get sick yuks out of messing with people.

  34. tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach says

    Very true – the Republicans pretty much seem to worship the trinity of Yahweh, Reagan and the Holy Invisible Hand.

    Oh the pleasures of fiscal bukakke!

  35. says

    Perhaps the “relationship” started without his awareness of the reality, and as things went on he gradually realized what was going on but decided not to complicate things or rock the boat by being clear with the media. Maybe he even lived with cognitive dissonance, both “knowing” she wasn’t real but “believing” she was. Think about all the psychics and faith healers who we all know exaggerate their stories and sometime flat-out lie, yet at the same time, can be said to believe their bullshit – they delude themselves along with others. In short, belief-in-belief.

    As for why the media fell for it, well… if I were a reporter, even just considering the possibility that a person doesn’t exist feels like really going against the grain. Especially since it’s not obvious why someone would lie about it. Challenging someone for evidence feels very confrontational, and if said reporter turned out wrong he would look like an ass. Of course, this is something irrationality thrives on.

    As for why this is getting more attention than the other things: one, it’s novel. Two, there’s the possibility that the player was a victim, which means it’s football-culturally-acceptable to lament it. If Swarbrick had shed tears about the rape victim instead of Te’o, it would be percived as an anti-football emotion on his part, and people would be clamoring for his head.

    Not that the same people would say that sexual assault is a fundamental part of the noble fabric of football. It’s just… well, I don’t know if I can actually explain the thinking coherently, but it’s a bit like how bringing up past transgressions/flaws of the American government/culture is seen in some quarters as anti-American, even if the same patriots would never explicitly celebrate those transgressions.

  36. diatreme says

    IMO PZ seems to be asking if ND was involved in a cover-up, not if Manti was the victim of hoax. A lot of posters have been focusing on Manti, not on the actions of the university.

    Was it a cover-up by Notre Dame?

    Yes it was – according to some local news football coaches were informed of this in December http://www.southbendtribune.com/news/sbt-teo-girlfriend-hoax-a-timelime-of-events-20130117,0,556190,full.story . How can this not be a cover-up if officials at ND knew of this almost a month ago?

  37. laurentweppe says

    Maybe we need to stop believing in football as much as we need to stop believing in gods.

    Of course: you should have converted to Soccer Worship, thus joining the ranks of civilized nations.

  38. markdowd says

    Of course: you should have converted to Soccer Worship, thus joining the ranks of civilized nations.

    So you want us to stop worshipping football…and start worshipping football?

  39. Gregory Greenwood says

    tim rowledge, Ersatz Haderach @ 41;

    Oh the pleasures of fiscal bukakke!

    How do you manage to cram so much that is simultaneously both funny and wrong into one little sentence?

    Did the Bene Gesserit breed you specifically for this ability?

    ;-P

  40. laurentweppe says

    So you want us to stop worshipping football…and start worshipping football?

    The theological implications may be too complex for you, but a liturgy built around playing a gamme of football while using one’s feet is clearly superior to this simulation of medieval warfare in space-suits called american “football”

  41. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Looks like he really was the victim of a well orchestrated hoax. At least that’s what’s come out so far. Who knows what he did with it after discovering the hoax.

    Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, the man who has been publicly identified as being behind the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax, called a church friend in early December crying and admitted to duping the Heisman finalist, the friend told Outside the Lines Thursday.

    The friend, a woman in her mid-20s, agreed to be interviewed under the condition that she not be identified, saying she was fearful for her family’s safety because of the overwhelming publicity the story has generated. In the interview, she did allow for her voice to be recorded.

    She says Tuiasosopo gave her the tearful confession and account of how he played what he said was at first a game on the unsuspecting Te’o. And, she says, he told her that it wasn’t the first time he had done it.

    “He (Ronaiah) told me that Manti was not involved at all, he was a victim. … The girlfriend was a lie, the accident was a lie, the leukemia was a lie,” said the woman. “He was crying, he was literally crying, he’s like ‘I know, I know what I have to do.’

    “It’s not only Manti, but he was telling me that it’s a lot of other people they had done this to.”

    Other points being made still stand, but this kid might actually be a victim here. I have a feeling more will come out though.

  42. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand sure as shit, Mr. Mormon faithy football guy was hoaxed.

    HOWEVER

    He still referred to her as girlfriend and talked about her death after he found out.

    Multiple media outlets have found numerous instances of the Notre Dame linebacker talking about Lennay Kekua as if she had existed after Dec. 6, the date that he and the university say he found out that the girl he thought he was having a relationship with and who died of leukemia was made up.