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Column: 2013 begins with wild scandals

February 1, 2013
Jimmy Gillispie - Sports Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

A superstar's legacy shredded by a scandal, postseason football on the college and professional level, college basketball parody and an imaginary girlfriend hoax.

All of those and many other stories highlighted January, which ended yesterday. It's been a crazy and wild start to 2013, so let's review the first month of the new year.

It's hard to say which story has been the bigger or more shocking of the past month. The two candidates have to be a disgraced bicyclist and a Heisman Trophy runner-up who was supposedly tricked into believing his girlfriend, whom he'd never met, died. Both stories broke about the same time and they both stole the sports headlines for days and weeks.

If you haven't heard by now, please come out of your cave. In case you missed it, Lance Armstrong admitted to blood doping and cheating during his professional cycling career. He admitted all of this during an interview with Oprah on Jan. 17.

I won't elaborate on exactly what Armstrong said during his interview, in which he wasn't remorse and didn't seem apologetic at all. He did admit to doping during all seven of his Tour de France titles, which have now been revoked. Armstrong was once regarded as arguably one of the greatest athletes in history, but now he's thought of as one of the biggest liars as he lied for years about not cheating.

As a person who always believed Armstrong to be clean and defended him, I was quite saddened to hear he was going to admit to doping in the week leading up to his interview. I saw clips of the interview and was left speechless. With performance-enhancing drugs and steroids smothering the sports world during the past decade, I was crushed to hear Armstrong admit to being a liar and cheating during his career.

However, I'm not sure he should be crucified by the media and fans as badly as he has been during the past month. He was one of many, if not most, professional cyclists who blood doped during the same time period. It was a dirty sport and anyone who wanted to compete on that level most likely doped.

I compare the situation to those Major League Baseball players who took steroids during the 80s and 90s. It was the culture of the sport. We have to acknowledge what happened (not necessarily agree with it) and accept it, which includes hall of fame inductions, instead of trying to forget an entire generation existed.

While Armstrong's interview stole the headlines for a day, his cheating career was quickly moved to the back burner for arguably the oddest story to hit the sports world. University of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o had one of the saddest but inspirational stories until part of it was revealed to be a hoax. The star football player's grandmother died in September and it was also revealed that his girlfriend died that day or the next day, depending on which report you read.

Lennay Kekua was in a serious car accident in California and then had been diagnosed with leukemia. Kekua died soon after this and right after Te'o's grandmother passed away. Then posted an article reporting the entire girlfriend story and existence was a hoax.

My first reaction was, "Huh?" "What?" I was utterly confused until I read the article. There are too many layers to the story to discuss it all, but I believe Te'o was duped into an online relationship with a girl, whom he talked to night after night for months. I think once he was told the truth, he hid it for fear of embarrassment. The story is still being talked about as the supposed man responsible for this will be talking on TV to Dr. Phil about what truly happened with Te'o.

Before the Notre Dame linebacker became the butt of jokes and wild story, his Fighting Irish were crushed in the BCS Championship Game. Alabama rolled tide over the Irish, 42-14, to continue the SEC's dominance in college football.

Most people, including myself, were hoping for a competitive game. Unless you were a fan of either team, you wanted to see a competitive contest. Well, like most BCS title games, we the fans were duped. It was an awful game and I can honestly say I didn't watch more than a minute of the second half as Alabama led 28-0 at the break.

Of course, January was also full of normal annual activity, including NBA games that don't matter because the regular season is too long and teams don't play hard until the playoffs, hockey games which are back after a long lockout, parody among college basketball teams and high school sports packing gymnasiums. Basketball and wrestling have sparked interest in South Tama this winter. Both sports are nearing the postseason, which begins Saturday for the STC wrestlers, so get out there and cheer on the Trojans. Meskwaki's girls' basketball team is also having a great season and could make a strong postseason run.

I won't say much about my Kansas Jayhawks' winning streak, because it's more likely to end sometime during the regular season than it is to continue into the NCAA Tournament. However, I will say I enjoyed the Jayhawks' victory over Iowa State in Lawrence. KU might have gotten lucky on the banked three-pointer that sent the game into overtime, but it was obvious momentum had severely shifted to KU after the buzzer beater. KU still has to face the "Hilton Magic" on Feb. 25. Anyone have tickets they want to donate to this sports editor?

Now we're into February and Sunday is a big day for football fans. I have to admit I correctly predicted the two Super Bowl teams before the NFL season started and I'm quite proud of my picks. I'll make one last pick for the NFL season.

Baltimore Ravens defeat San Francisco 49ers 31-27 and Joe Flacco takes the MVP trophy.

Let's hope February is a great month and filled with less controversy and sad stories. Good luck Trojans and Meskwaki Warriors!



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