Look, we've established that I'm not a sports guy. But with the second sports scandal this month culminating in a shame-faced tell-all interview, I have to ask: Do sports fans really enjoy having these bullshit narratives slapped on top of their sporting events? Were Te'o's games really more magical because you thought he had a dead girlfriend? Do you enjoy the Olympics more when you find out that the gymnast's mom had cancer, or that the figure skater's whole family was wiped out in a tragic car accident? When the backstories are true, they still feel exploitative and phony when the TV sports reporters relay them over a slow-motion montage of the player looking sad. When these stories aren't true, fans generally feel taken advantage of, and outraged as the sports celebrity goes on a sadfaced apology tour.
Or is the outrage part of the experience? Does getting pissed off at Lance Armstrong count as part of the whole sporting narrative now? Is that something you just count on happening now, as a sports fan? Why isn't it enough that this young person practices all the time, every day, and has become really, really good at the game? Why do we care if they're upstanding moral figures (SPOILER ALERT: they're not really upstanding moral figures) or if they have some tragedy in their past? Why isn't the competition enough?