Manti Te’o and the College Sports Industrial Complex
A week or so ago, Hub Blog and a Notre Dame grad exchanged
brief text messages about the Manti Te’o falling-in-cyber-love
controversy. Initially, I was a little sympathetic toward Te’o, figuring that
he was only 21 and that I’ve seen my share of other weird sports sex stories
over the years. I was willing to cut him some slack, even if his behavior was
more than a little odd.
But here comes Te’o, getting the obligatory interview with Katie Couric
(was Oprah too busy
with Lance to handle a Te’o interview?) and … and
I’m now a little less sympathetic toward the ND linebacker. He’s obviously a
natural when it comes to playing football. But he’s also a natural when it come
to PR and publicity and putting out sappy and embellished media narratives
about his life, a talent that partially explains why he got in this mess in the
first place and a talent he’s surely counting on now to salvage his reputation.
I’m still willing to cut him a little slack. Hey, he’s only 21, and there are
entire businesses built around cyber-dating, kinky telephone sex, blow-up
rubber dolls, etc. But Te’o is obviously and fully committed to the entire
ethos of the modern College Sports Industrial Complex, i.e. making lot of money
via the “student athlete” combine, aka the NCAA, and its financial interaction
with the all-important, bill-paying media. This time, Te’o knows what he’s doing.