With Armstrong it’s less about a moot confession than our desire to see that veneer of self-righteous assholery finally crack.
Hey everyone! Welcome back to Weekend Reading, and what a week it has been. Lance Armstrong finally admitted to the doping and drug use that everyone already knew about (though I suppose it was satisfying to hear him admit it after years of denial), and Deadspin exposed one of the most inspirational sports stories of the year as a complete hoax. It’s almost as if some greater force looked down from the cosmos and said, “And lo, two great men shall be brought low by lies! The seas shall part and fiery frogs shall rain from the sky!”
Alas, there were no fire frogs, but the two stories did bear some similarities insofar as they were both almost entirely inconsequential. Armstrong admitted to nothing in Thursday’s interview that we weren’t already aware of, and Te’o’s offense, even if it was a deliberate fabrication, is on par with lying to your friends about a fictional summer camp romance. NBD, as teenagers say.
Our interest in both stories revolves more around our persistent enjoyment of watching the deserved suffer. With Armstrong it’s less about a moot confession than our desire to see that veneer of self-righteous assholery finally crack. We want to see him finally be affected in some way, by everything that’s happened to him. Similarly, the best part of the Te’o story isn’t his suffering (it’s still very possible that he was just a naïve victim of an Internet dating scheme), but mocking the scores of brand name reporters and publications that bought the story without question. After years of fluffing their favorite athletes with glowing, cliché-laden profiles, they finally got burned. How sweet it was.
Anyway, without further incitement of witch burnings, here is your Weekend Reading!
One of the most unbelievable stories of the college football season, a player on the field in spite of the death of his beloved girlfriend, turned out to be a total fabrication. Timothy Burke and Jack Dickey, Deadspin.
“Manti Te'o did lose his grandmother this past fall. Annette Santiago died on Sept. 11, 2012, at the age of 72, according to Social Security Administration records in Nexis. But there is no SSA record there of the death of Lennay Marie Kekua, that day or any other. Her passing, recounted so many times in the national media, produces no obituary or funeral announcement in Nexis, and no mention in the Stanford student newspaper. Nor is there any report of a severe auto accident involving a Lennay Kekua. Background checks turn up nothing. The Stanford registrar's office has no record that a Lennay Kekua ever enrolled. There is no record of her birth in the news. Outside of a few Twitter and Instagram accounts, there's no online evidence that Lennay Kekua ever existed.”
Tourists have shunned Colombia for decades, fearing violence, drugs, and kidnappings. But now it may be one of the last great unexplored adventure destinations on Earth. Stephanie Pearson, Outside.
"When most people think of Colombia today, they still think cocaine, kidnappings, and guerrillas. In 2011, Colombia produced 760,000 pounds of cocaine. Farmers can sell a paste made from coca leaves, which is later processed into cocaine, for roughly $63,500 per pound. Cacao, the source of chocolate and one of the best alternative crops to grow, sells for 75 cents per pound. This is the very simple reason why, as Becerra told me, ‘as long as there’s a demand for drugs, there will be violence in Colombia.’ Much of the violence involves armed factions—guerrillas, like the FARC and the National Liberation Army, paramilitaries, and even the Colombian military—terrorizing local farmers for their land. Since 1985, more than 3.5 million Colombians, about 10 percent of the population, have been internally displaced. That statistic surpasses Sudan."