You Guys! I Love Sports Now! Ahem. I Mean, Making Up Dead Girlfriends Is Wrong
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You Guys! I Love Sports Now! Ahem. I Mean, Making Up Dead Girlfriends Is Wrong

By Courtney Enlow | Celebrities Are Better than You | January 17, 2013 | Comments ()


So, backstory. I have never liked sports. Not playing them, not watching them, not talking about them. I have a lifelong affinity for the Cubs due to my father and great-grandmother's love for them, but other than that, fuck sports. Especially team sports. I didn't even like playing doubles tennis, it's probably why I didn't make varsity in high school, along with the fact that, as I may have said, I don't like sports. Even ones I played. Then, I married into a family who absolutely adores Notre Dame football with every ounce of their respective and collective beings. So, I played along. Whoo. Go Irish. Sports sports sports. Safetys and kicks. Whatever. I want a hot pretzel.

Quick interlude to say if a single one of you is mad at me for being a typical "ugh, ew, gross, sports" girl, then FUCK YOU, you're the sexist. And if you read that as "aw, she's a girl, of course she doesn't like sports" then FUCK YOU, you're the misogynist. I just don't like other people enough to get sweaty with them unless I'm getting something damn good out of it. And watching the sports games? EFF THAT NOISE. It's like watching someone play a video game. Boring and pointless.

But, then, over time, I grew to love and understand and care about football. Notre Dame football specifically. Not because my husband or in-laws made me, but because I got swept up in the magic of the fandom, the history, the glory of the game.

And so, not unlike the moment Belle truly loved the Beast, I was given a gift last night for my sincere affection, and it's so much better than a chiseled blond prince. So, so much better.

Because, last night, my two favorite things came together in a cacophony of madness and joy. Notre Dame football, and crazytownbananapants celebrity gossip drama. AND OH DID I GET IT IN ABUNDANCE.

You guys! Is this what sports is always like?! BECAUSE SIGN ME THE FUCK UP. Is it too late for me to play tee-ball? Because I will play the shit out of some goddamn tee-ball. That's how much I love sports now. Holy pants. Love it.

Some of you might not know what I'm talking about, because you've stayed off Facebook and Twitter for the past 18 hours or so, perhaps on a monkly sabbatical. I'll sum up.

So, Manti Te'o is a linebacker for ND. A Hawaiian Mormon, a sweetheart, an all around good guy and he became the star of the team this year, largely due to his triumph in the face of tragedy when, on the same day, he lost both his grandmother and his girlfriend, the girlfriend's loss due to leukemia. That weekend, the stands were filled with supportive fans, giving a loving standing ovation, adorned with brightly colored leis in honor of their brave, brave hero. After the Michigan game, my husband almost literally threw our daughter at Te'o to get a picture, to have her blessed by a potential Heisman winner. Here's the picture. It didn't turn out great.


You know what else didn't turn out great? Te'o's dramatic tale of loss and woe. Because, while grandma is most assuredly chilling on the big lanai in the sky, girlfriend? FAKE. She is about as dead as Charlie Sheen's dick around a roomful of coked up 18-year-olds, and about as real as the possibility of Taylor Swift writing a song called "Maybe I Shouldn't Put This Much Emphasis On Dudes Who Clearly Aren't That Into Me, and Maybe She's Not a Whore Because She Has Brown Hair." She not ded. U don't cri evrytim. She was made up. Fictitious. A fabrication. A lie.

And I love everything about it. Eeee! I'm doing that happy jumpy shake thing just thinking about it! There are jazz fingers and everything!

Look, it is wrong to lie. And it is really wrong to lie about dead people. But you can't tell me this is not the single most enjoyable thing to happen in sports since [insert some kind of sports reference here because I don't know if you read the opening paragraph but I got nothin']. This is like the Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson thing all over again only it's got FAKE DEAD PEOPLE. It's like, sure, "The OC" ended, but god gave me this to keep me going. I love it. I want to snuggle it.

Okay, all that aside, obviously, that enjoyment is not directed at Te'o and company. Ohhh, buddy. You fucked up big.

There are several possibilities here. Let's go over them.

Scenario #1: Te'o was, as he maintains, totally Catfished. We get it, we've been there. Hell, chick even had the car accident, immediately followed by cancer. Apparently there's a playbook and "Lennay Kekua" read it word for word. So, is it plausible that this sweet, naive young man fell for the trickery of an internet asshole pretending to be a supple young wahine nani from Stanford? Sure. But that does mean that he and his family, with a probably complicit school and team staff, exaggerated it for the purpose of a good story--adding bits about all-night phone calls and meetings that clearly never took place. "Why would he do that?" you ask? If you'd seen those leis, those adoring fans in person, you'd know.

Scenario #2: Dude was in on it from the get, with "Lennay" his girlfriend from Canada that never existed. Then he killed her off. On the same day as his grandma, totally stealing grandma's death thunder.

I'm going with a bit of both. A bit of #1 with a heavy spoonful of #2 and, at the very minimum, a BIG dose of tacit PR exaggeration by Te'o, his family and the whole ND football program, and who knows what and who else, because this story keeps getting weirder. But, at the time, it worked. It got asses in the seats, it made people care. It brought magic back to Notre Dame football. Te'o was beloved. A hero.

And now?

Well, at least he's got his girlfriend.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Buck Forty

    I don't know the guy, I've never met him, so my take on Manti Te’o’s fake dead girlfriend is nothing but wild speculation:

    it seems to me like someone made up a fake girlfriend to mask his homosexuality and like all Big Lies it came crashing down on top of him. If that's what happened then I feel really sad for him. America needs to grow up and let people be who they are, not force them into the closet because their sexual preference might offend/embarrass someone else.

    Laughing at Manti Te’o’s plight doesn't help.

  • Snuffleupagus

    Am I the only one thankful for this lovely story that I will forevermore use as a weapon against self doubt? I mean, the bar for the biggest loser in the world has already been set. I'm pounding beers this weekend.

  • True_Blue

    I'm in SoCal (we don't even have an NFL team--San Diego Chargers don't count), and this "catfishing" is the lead story 3 days in a row. So here's my conjecture on what happened (caveat--I don't watch/know about/care football; I also have also never met Manti).

    Manti is a closet case. He did not want to come out, so he needed a beard. Instead of finding a girl to play that role, his friend created an online girlfriend as a cover for him. But when people started asking why his girlfriend never attended his games, Manti added the bit about her having cancer--cancer treatments make travel impossible, and the treatments take a long time (unlike say flu). Then people began asking which hospital she was being treated at, so they could send her flowers, etc. So he killed off his imaginary girlfriend. Got some favorable PR out of it--but once the story got out there, it was only a matter of time people found out the truth. Manti is now trying to cover his butt by blaming his friend.

  • kirbyjay

    Go Patriots!

  • ,

    And sometimes ballplayers are just that dumb:

  • Pookie

    I was born and raised a Miami Hurricane, so there's that. I knew this shit wasn't real because there were no cock-shots or pictures of her titties floating around the internet. What guy is going to talk on the phone with some broad and not talk about fucking, I don't want to hear about your guy being different. The only way a guy will talk to you for eight and not mention fucking is if he's gay, before anyone calls me a homophobe I like gays, my brother is gay and he can cook like the dickens. I'm glad to see those so called good Christian Schools, Penn State and Notre Dame finally get what's coming to them, and that fucker from Alabama Nick Saban, I can't wait for those motherfuckers to fall. One of my new year resolutions is to not proof read anything that I write online, so if anybody reads my stuff and finds mistakes, I give you permission to correct it. My utter contempt for you leads me down ths road of not proof reading my shit.

  • ChuckNBuck

    "But, then, over time, I grew to love and understand and care about
    football. Notre Dame football specifically. Not because my husband or
    in-laws made me, but because I got swept up in the magic of the fandom,
    the history, the glory of the game."

    In the history of Norte Dame football, from 1964-2009 every head coach has been given at least 5 years to instill their program... except one. Tyrone Willingham. Coincidentally, he is the only black head coach in their history. As a black man, and a fan of their program for 20 years until 2004, their "magic" is tarnished. Granted, so are many college football programs, but honestly, Courtney, you can do better.

  • automatic365

    The joke is on whoever believes a college football player is in love with, and faithful to a girl he's never met.

    People should have got suspicious when he skipped out on her funeral because her dying wish was for him to never miss a game.

  • Yossarian

    Et tu, Pajiba? All right then since I can't leave well enough alone...

    Here's what I want to know: what is wrong with our public discourse that we continue to engage this issue with a bunch of idle speculation and outlandish conjecture as if whatever half-formed opinion we come up with has any validity, and weight, any significance whatsoever? What is it about people that what they believe to be true (based on nothing) matters?

    We do know things. We do have public statements from the University of Notre Dame who commissioned an investigation from an independent firm that specializes in on-line fraud, that found no evidence that Manti was involved in any way and significant evidence & correspondence from the people who were doing this to him. (press conference of Notre Dame AD Jack Swarbrick )

    Now I understand skepticism. I get your reluctance to trust any one source. But stop to think about it for just a second (or, take half an hour and watch the presser if you've going to spend so much of your attention following this story): Here are real people with access, with resources, and with time who are in the best position to know the most about what happened, when, and how. People who use their real names and attach their reputation to the statements they are making.

    On the other hand, you have... what? Pure speculation and insinuation and jackasses like yourselves who have no clue what you're talking about but still fell compelled to comment, to make your contribution to the noise. But internet commenters are one thing, y'all aren't supposed to have good sense or objectivity. Can anyone tell me why the fuck the experts, analysits, and reporters still think this issue breaks 50/50 (or worse) that Manti was somehow involved in conceiving and perpetrating this hoax? Based on fucking what? An anonymous source in the Deadspin article that says he's "80% sure" Manti was involved and their own feeble critical thinking skills. Yeah, Deadspin broke a story that the girl never existed. True. Good story. Everything else though? Why? Where does it come from? What is it based on?

    So there we have scenario one and two. Either the kid made up a story and covered his tracks so well that outside investigators can't find any trace of his involvement (despite the fact that it could all unravel with a fucking phone call if ANY reporter had done due diligence) or the University of Notre Dame has decided to go out on a limb to cover for the kid and hang their Athletic Director out to boot, or maybe just maybe the supposition and guesswork and blog posts are jumping to an unfounded conclusion? ya think?

    Why is this ok? Why ignore information that has been publicly available for 18 hours and make no mention of it at all when you write on a topic? Because it's just Pajiba, and there is no accountability or expectations, you're just a pop culture blog, everyone else is doing it, too? Why even write about it here in the first place? Just gotta get in one the controversy of the day? Too juicy? It's almost as good as that time Brittney shaved her head? Wheeeee!

    But if you're wrong, if it's scenario 1, then by all accounts this seems like a good kid who honestly believed that someone he cared about died, and he went out of his way to draw attention to that and how he felt about that, and it turns out he was being manipulated and lied to the whole time. He's the laughing stock of the entire nation and other parts of the world. His betrayal and foolishness is inescapable. It's like the prom scene in Carrie only it happens in front of 500 Million people and will follow him forever. Maybe he's just a good kid, really talented at football, very religious, not very experienced with girls, who just had his whole life turned upside down so we could make twitter jokes. Isn't that more plausible than the notion that he contrived this elaborate hoax and fooled everyone just to... what, get a little more time on camera? Have any of you even seen this kid on camera?

    Well, anyway, if you can think of an answer to "why"? let me know.

  • Carlito

    Excuse me if I don't jump to assume the information providing by a big-time college sports program is the gospel truth. Not all of us are making wanton speculations, but some of us are extremely skeptical of both a university that has a potential image problem on their hands and various media organizations that blew past obvious red flags in the first place and are now swinging the pendulum in the other direction to catch up with the trendy story. But some of us "jackasses" are actually waiting for more facts to come out, and no I don't mean anonymous sources nor references to private investigations, whose results we haven't seen yet (unless I missed that in the fray, in which case please let me know).

  • Yossarian

    Have you watched the linked press conference? While you are "waiting for more facts" that is? I'll excuse you, and I'll happy listen to your thoughts, if you watch the linked video and let me know what you take exception to, where you have doubts, and why you think that the AD of Notre Dame would make the statements he does if they weren't true. Because the story isn't going away. I'm sure people will hack his social media accounts and drag any and all personal information they can find into the public light so the chances of covering anything up or getting away with anything at this point are slim to none. It would essentially be career suicide for the head of one of the most prestigious college athletics programs in the country.

    Let me know what you think.

  • lyndsay123

    Because prestigious college athletics programs never cover things up to save their own asses and images - NEVER!! Catholic institutions especially know nothing about that.

  • Honestly...does anyone else think he might be in the closet? Because, really, who creates a fake girlfriend? I don't know that I buy that he wasn't in on it, but I would buy that he's a kid who comes from a world where being gay is not a thing he could openly SHOULD NOT matter, but sadly, his religion and his sport are both the types of places where it'd be held against him.

    Also, Fuck ND. REAL DEAD GIRLS, you assholes. And (probably) a lot of real assaulted girls, too. Has Penn State taught you nothing?

  • HaydenT

    That is what occurred to me as well. That either he, or the friend, is gay. If him, came up with the story to establish his 'straightness' and when grandma died thought maybe it was a good time to get rid of her, too, while people were distracted with grandma. Otherwise, the bigger he gets, the more scrutiny he gets. Or, the friend is gay and harboring a crush and this was his way of getting close.

    I think the first scenario is more likely, based on the facts. It doesn't help that he is Mormon and playing for a Catholic university.

  • I don't really care about this dipshit, I just love that it is happening to Notre Dame. So many of my co-workers are rabid ND fans for some reason so I'm enjoying their pain.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    So is it a thing now to call an online acquaintance that you've obviously never seen on webcam and probably never spoken to on the phone a girl or boyfriend? That seems incredibly desperate. This is a quarterback for a big college team, he's reasonably good looking and he's apparently a good player. I find it hard to believe he doesn't have to fight the women off with a stick even if he is a Mormon.

  • AngelenoEwok

    He's a linebacker, not a quarterback.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    There's a difference?

  • AngelenoEwok

    Yeah, a quarterback is more likely to be swimmin in women.

  • BlackRabbit

    Ooooo yes. Less money less ladies less everything, really. Probably lower income tax bracket. And hell, the only things I learned from this article and comments were that there are Mormons on the islands and Mormons can't drink coffee.

  • e jerry powell

    Why is it always Canada? Why not someplace exotic? Hell, the kid is from Hawaii. Someplace nice and tropical? Perhaps even a research scientist from Ecuador doing studies on the Galapagos?

    Work on the shit, kids. If not plausible, then at least interesting.

    (And yes, I know. The details of his story have nothing to do with my peculiar flight of fancy.)

  • InternetMagpie

    Because Canada is boring.

  • InternetMagpie


  • F'mal DeHyde

    Wasn't me but your comment reminded me how much I enjoyed Strange Brew way back when.

  • TheEmpress

    Just when I thought I couldn't possibly hate Notre Dame any more than I already do, this little gem falls on my lap. Thank you, Touchdown Jesus, for this all-around douchebaggery. When you're giving Lance Armstrong a run for his money for "Sports Asshole of the Week," we all win.

    Anyone want to speculate whether this effects his draft status?

  • Bodhi

    I understand EXACTLY where you are coming from. My family gives zero fucks about sports & I married into a massively sports obsessed family. All the fucks are given about the Red Sox (the ILs have the NESN package & watch, the Patriots, & the Sooners. I have watched more football in the past year than I had the entire previous years of my life. One of the words that my 20 month old says very clearly is TOUCHDOWN. Sigh.

    Anyway, I am baffled & SO intrigued by this story! My husband seems to think that his being a sheltered Mormon boy leads credence to the 1st senerio, but I'm not convinced

  • The real instance of celebrities being better than us is Notre Dame hiring a private investigator to investigate this ridiculous story but ignoring the rape allegations against it's football players and doing nothing when one of the women making the allegation killed herself. So I'm sorry if (seems like a big if) Te'o is not in any way at fault here. But Notre Dame, along with the whole culture of college football, can go fuck itself. It's disgusting.

  • Yossarian

    All right let's talk about this one, too. I think this is a really serious and complex situation, and am I very reluctant to engage because I don't want to get painted into being on the opposite side of very real, very important discussion of rape, rape culture, and entitlement. I don't want to get stuck blaming the victim or defending rape or blindly defending an institution or a sports franchise.

    However. If we are going to bring it up, let's try to do better than this. Let's really discuss it. I don't think it is fair to claim "Notre Dame ignored rape allegations". Based on what? Something you read somewhere? Do you know what happened? Do you have anything to support that claim? Because it's a pretty serious claim. Do you just like it because it fits an idea you have about institutions and corrupt athletics and mistreatment of women?

    Do you know what happened? Anything about it? Because it wasn't rape, it was "sexual assault" and it was investigated and there were no charges. And neither one of those things are enough to give Notre Dame a pass, and excusing sexual assault because it isn't rape is not an argument I want to make, but let's keep going.

    Here's what is known. Lizzy Seeberg was a student at Saint Mary's College which is located right next to Notre Dame. She was hanging out with other college kids. She ended up going to the dorm room of a football player with a friend and someone else. She ended up alone with the football player. According to her he started kissing her and touched her breasts. Her account uses the word "forcefully" She became upset. She left the dorm room. She filed a complaint with the school.

    Now, I don't want to excuse anything that happened or dismiss her allegations. Her feelings are legitimate and must be respected. Clearly the guy was out of line. Maybe something should be done. Rape Culture, entitlement, sexual assault, these are all important and important things that need to be talked about. I would guess that Notre Dame is not very good at talking about them. I would guess that football players and athletes are not very sensitive to them. These are problems I would love to see the University address.

    What probably happened, however, is that her friends and his friends gave her a hard time and told her to drop it. There was an infamous text message to the effect of "Don't mess with Notre Dame Football", which is a terrible thing to say to a victim and indefensible but I don't think it is fair to use it as a smoking gun to implicate the whole of Notre Dame. It's a teenager being an idiot.

    And what happened next is she killed herself. That is incredibly sad and tragic. It's terrible and unimaginable. I really wish she had talked to someone, because I know there are good people to be found on both of those campuses who truly care about young people and would have done almost anything for her. But what I can't accept is the way her death is used as a way to attack the school, to leverage the sexual assault (frequently referred to as "rape" because it sounds worse) and the suicide and make it sound like they went hand in hand. I don't want to make light of what that girl was going through and none of us know why she did what she did but to claim that it was done because a Notre Dame football player raped her and the school wouldn't follow up is extremely unfair, and I think it is harmful to an honest discussion of the wider issues of rape, rape culture, and how women are treated. Trying to make it a better story because it has an attention getting name attached to to is not the right way to bring attention to these issues.

    There was an investigation. Obviously it could have been done sooner, the school should have better resources available, there should be more on campus dialogue about rape, date rape, and these issues. I know a lot of really good people at Notre Dame and Saint Mary's who would go out of their way to support and advocate for students and help them with problems but there are also a lot of people within that institution who I disagree with. (Suing to prevent health insurance from covering contraceptives, opposition to birth control in general on a campus full on teens and twenty-somethings, opposing performances of the Vagina Monologues on campus, refusing to allow an official student organization for GLABT support, etc, etc.) Frankly, there is a lot about Notre Dame that is embarrassing and deserves your criticism.

    But I believe that Notre Dame and many of the people there are good. I believe that they do take these allegations seriously and I believe that if they had reason to believe that a crime had been committed they would not hesitate to take action to protect their students. They take the concept of "in loco parentis" very seriously. (sometimes too seriously, like the student code of conduct forbidding students from having sex or expelling kids for smoking pot) But I generally believe they are good.

    The incident you are referring to is all-around terrible. But what do you base your accusations on? The fact that they didn't expel the male student who went for second base without a go-ahead? That he didn't go to jail? Do you think it is possible that there was a fair and thorough investigation and the result was that the teenage boy wasn't criminally responsible and they didn't have a basis for taking action?

    Or more likely you don't really know anything about it, you just read something online that fit a narrative you believe in and you thought you'd add it here because football, Notre Dame, and big time college athletics are evil and to hell with the reputations of the hard-working people who represent Notre Dame. And everyone who upvotes you doesn't even that, they just have your comment. And that is why everyone assumes a football player raped a girl and the university covered it up when she killed herself. And just like the Manit story nobody gives a damn about facts when the gossip is this good.

  • ,

    OT a bit, and you make an eloquent argument, but since you brought this up:

    "Suing to prevent health insurance from covering contraceptives,
    opposition to birth control in general on a campus full on teens and
    twenty-somethings ..."

    It's a fucking CATHOLIC COLLEGE, my friend. If you don't know what the Catholic church stands for and don't want to bother understanding or conforming, what the fuck are you doing at Notre Dame? Plenty of secular colleges you can attend and do all the fucking and pot smoking and shit you want to do. Go right ahead, I did my share in college and I sure am not trying to stop anyone from having any fun. But Jesus Christ, if you go to Liberty University there are going to be rules about holding hands, and if you go to BYU there are probably not going to be many espresso and soda pop stands on campus, are there? And if you don't like it you can fucking go someplace else. Why does Notre Dame (or Georgetown, or the rest of the renegade Big East basketball schools) have to conform to YOUR world view? Why aren't they entitled to tell YOU that if you don't like THEIR policies, you can go somewhere else or go fuck YOURself?

    Just curious.

  • ,

    Now, having just excoriated you a little bit, I'll open myself up to some excoriation, because I think here's what has happened: Sex assault and rape, as we all know, are serious crimes that have a long history of not being taken seriously (by men, largely). It has taken decades of "no means no" and urging women to report rapes and assaults to see the perpetrators punished, in coaching them that it's not their shame, they didn't ask for it, etc. etc. to begin to change that attitude. This is all well and good.

    But I think it has swung so far the other way that now no one is ever ever ever allowed to question a woman's actions or inactions or behavior in such a way that MIGHT even BEGIN to suggest that maybe, just maybe, she is complicit in her own damage (I'm not talking about the Notre Dame case here, not yet, but in general about why this gets so polarizing so fast).

    I've tried making this analogy, for instance, the last time during the Ben Roethlisberger rape allegations in Georgia, and gotten nowhere:

    Let's say I put on an Armani suit and a Rolex watch and stuffed my wallet with $100s and drive my Rolls Royce to the worst slum in Chicago at midnight, and leave the keys in the car and get out and take a little stroll. Now I am certainly ENTITLED to dress how I want and do what I want and go where I want any time I want. This is America, dammit, and there are laws against beating the shit out of guys who flash a lot of bling in the hood.

    Well, that may be true, but I'm still a fucking idiot, right? I have to bear SOME responsibility for my own beatdown, don't I? I think it's pretty clear that I do.

    But if you even BEGIN to suggest that perhaps an underage girl who uses a fake ID to go to a bar and ends up blotto drunk and in the restroom with an NFL QB (who I think it's pretty fucking clear doesn't belong in there either), or (in YOUR case, Yoss) even BEGIN to suggest that maybe things didn't happen quite the way everyone seems to think, that maybe all the information isn't out there (think of the Duke lacrosse case), then you're taking sides, and the side you're taking is (to many people) absolutely misogynist and pro-rape and you are a filthy fucking pig. That's why you can't have this discussion, because you can't win an argument with absolutists, and that has unfortunately become an unintended consequence of the well-meaning, well-intended campaign to bring rapists to justice.

    My $.02. Have at me, 'Jibs.

  • InternetMagpie

    Yoss, I'm not sure if you're responding to me or to PaddyDog's comment below; I wasn't referencing Lizzy Speeberg (in fact, I didn't know much about that incident at all) but rather pointing out the fact that no other news outlet seemed interested in Lennay Keuka's story, but rather how she fit into Manti's narrative. Ultimately SHE didn't matter; what mattered was how she advanced Manti's image. That (and, admittedly, other incidents surrounding other teams/players/etc) says a lot about the culture surrounding college sports, I think.

  • ,

    Maybe what it says a lot about is lazy reporting, about accepting the word of 18-to-21-year-olds when they start to tell good stories, about a reluctance to follow the old journalism dictum: If your mother says she loves you, check it out. Maybe it's how the steroids culture was allowed to flourish so long in baseball ("Oooo, two guys chasing the Maris record! What a story!" Maybe it's how Lance Armstrong was able to stonewall the truth for 12 years, even with a world of journalists chasing him.

    I've been having to defend sports journalists in a curious way the last couple weeks, since the baseball Hall of Fame voting came out and people start writing things about how the reporters "had to know" that all the players were using. Curious, because basically I've been having to say that sports journalist may just be that dumb. I seriously doubt many of them (even now) had any medical training or education and would have had any idea what andro was if they saw it on the shelf in a locker.

    "Hey Barry, what's in the syringe?"

    "Um ... insulin, I'm a whattayacallit, diacritic?"

    "Oh, OK. But man, you sure look ... different from last year. Looks like your hat size went from 7 1/8 to about 10."

    "I really dedicated myself to a weight regimen over the winter ..."

    *flexes bicep that would snap my pencil neck*

    "... and, uh, milkshakes, I drank a lot of milkshakes."

    "Oh, OK. Hey, vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, big guy, the readers want to know."

    Why let the pursuit of facts get in the way of a good story? Hey, just let me write about my ballgames, man, if the editor wants to turn baseball into a medical story he can damn well assign the medical beat writer to it.

    On a more serious note, they also have to worry about the two things most vital to a sports journalist, access and interviews. Access to the clubhouse or lockerroom, if it's not already strictly forbidden by the team or school, is a privilege -- reporters need a pass, and that pass can be revoked if players start to feel uncomfortable about someone nosing around in their lockers. It's not like city council meetings. And if the questions get uncomfortable, players are under no obligation to speak to reporters. So ... you want to explain to your editor why nobody on the team will speak with you and you have to buy a ticket to cover the game?

  • Yossarian

    I was only commenting on the people who are pushing the ND/rape issue in what I feel is a one-sided and irresponsible way.

    As for your cultural criticism about the dead girlfriend being (literally) nothing but a name in an article about the heroic young football player, I think it's a good point, and perfectly valid. I wonder if maybe some reporters at least tried to reach out to get some quotes and photos of the girl and just gave up because it they didn't get any responses (it seems incredible that no one did follow up).

    If my belief in Manti is correct I think he cared about her very much, and was legitimately grieving. Maybe I'm getting too charitable but I really don't think it was his intention to use it to advance his image, I think that's just kind of how human interest stories in sports get used. If you want enough college football you see the announcers reach for anecdotes and tidbits to make the players more relatable (or, if you watch the Olympics you know exactly what I mean). Media momentum takes care of the rest, and still drives it now that it has gone over the cliff.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    As noted in the Washington Post regarding Lizzy Seeberg who committed suicide: "At the time of her death, 10 days after reporting the attack to campus police, who have jurisdiction for even the most serious crimes on school property, investigators still had not interviewed the accused."

    Ten days. Totally. Fucking. Inexcusable.

    She didn't file a complaint with the school, she filed a report with the campus police, which should trigger an immediate investigation. And in those ten days she received threatening texts not to mess with ND football. You say she should have asked for help; she did and she was failed. If an assault is not immediately investigated, it is anything but fair or thorough and saying "obviously it could have been done sooner" is a giant, gaping, unacceptable pass. This is a fact based analysis, not a convenient narrative.

    I guess we won't even talk about the girl who was in fact raped and then also received threatening texts from football players because you sort of gloss over her, but the facts of her case are equally troubling.

    While I'm sure there are good people at ND, these two cases are complete fuck ups in terms of the university's legal and moral obligations to their students. And frankly, your admonition that "there should be more on campus dialogue about rape, date rape, and these issues" isn't for shit unless the police actually do their job and investigate when someone files a report, and the university in turn takes these incidents seriously when they happen rather than when there is media scrutiny.

    When these incidents happen we need to acknowledge that an actual wrong occurred, not because it vilifies a sport or institution - although those entities can play a role - but because accepting responsibility and self-examination about those failures are the only things that result in any sort of change. Didn't we learn this from Penn State? If you wanted to say don't vilify ND for this made up girl friend shit, then yeah, I'd be with you. But if you really want to go down the path of hey it was non-consensual second base not rape and it's sad she killed herself and if she'd only gotten help etc. ad nauseam I am so *not* with you.

  • Yossarian

    If you are making the point that the way the University and campus police followed up on a sexual assault complaint is completely unacceptable, I agree with you. I think they deserve a lot of criticism for the lack of services, resources, and awareness of issues that female students face. As a smaller private conservative Catholic school they are insulated from and resistant to a lot of progressive/feminist issues that there is no excuse for, but even that doesn't explain the complete failure to follow up on this complaint that was revealed when the suicide made this very public. Totally inexcusable.

    But I have a problem with accusing the University of failing to follow up on a rape that was never reported. (this is the part I hate, the part that it is impossible to not sound like an asshole during but...) honestly, what can they do? What are they being accused of not doing? If there was a rape, if the victim doesn't want to press charges that is completely her choice and an understandable and I can't even begin to imagine how difficult. But how can we have an honest conversation that takes this rape as fact, alleges that the victim was intimidated and threatened, and holds the university accountable for lack of response when this is all we know? I don't know how to have that conversation. What can we talk about? You say this victim "also received threatening texts"... please, show me. I will change my stance in a heartbeat if there are verifiable text messages to this second accuser.

    You say "When these incidents happen we need to acknowledge that an actual wrong occurred". But what happened? What do we know? The only thing I know for sure is there were two teenagers in a dorm room, one made an aggressive move to touch the body of the other, she objected, she left. No violence, no restraint, no forcing himself on her, no rape. And suicide is simply not a rational response to those events as we know them. It's completely irresponsible to link the suicide to the sexual assault and place all the blame for that tragedy on the incident and the lack of response.

    How can we acknowledge what actually occurred when the conversation has become a charge of "ignoring the rape allegations against it's football players and doing
    nothing when one of the women making the allegation killed herself." which is completely baseless? How can we have an honest discussion and make the world a better place when it's all about attention-getting headlines and scoring points and churning up outrage at the expense of the reputations and lives of the very people who are necessary to accomplishing the changes and improvements we want?

    I don't want to give Notre Dame a pass but I do want to give them the benefit of the doubt, I want to criticize them in ways that bring about positive change, and I think that the type of stuff that I am objecting to is harmful and counter-productive to everyone.

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Sexual assault is not a feminist issue, it's a crime. To act like this is some sort of touchy feely women's issue is to greatly misconstrue sexual assault. What Lizzy actually reported was no mere stray grope:

    "He started sucking my neck and I started crying harder," Lizzy wrote. "He pulled down my tank top by the straps. He slipped them down my shoulders and proceeded to suck and lick my right breast while holding me down on his lap by the arms. I felt his hands start to move down towards my shorts as if he was trying to unbutton them or pull them off. I was still crying at this point and felt so scared that I couldn't move."

    "What can they do?" you ask throwing up your hands. When a student reports an incident, a police department is obligated to investigate it, because when it doesn't it's called the "chilling effect". The girl who was raped saw how the little the police did for the girl who was assaulted, which may have contributed to her decision not to file a report.

    And those threats to the rape victim? I'll point you again to the Washington Post:

    "A few months later, a resident assistant in a Notre Dame dorm drove a freshman to the hospital for a rape exam after receiving an S.O.S. call. “She said she’d been raped by a member of the football team at a party off campus,” the R.A. told me. I also spoke to the R.A.’s parents, who met the young woman that same night, when their daughter brought her to their home after leaving the hospital. They said they saw — and reported to athletic officials — a hailstorm of texts from other players, warning the young woman not to report what had happened: “They were trying to silence this girl,” the R.A.’s father told me. And did; no criminal complaint was ever filed."

    An unbiased adult saw these texts and reported them to ND's athletic officials; this is credible evidence. I think it's time for you to "change your stance in a heartbeat" as promised.

  • Yossarian

    But that's not credible evidence, it's hearsay. And I still have to ask you "what can they do?", not to be dismissive but because it is a legitimate question: What can they do? A newspaper columnist can print that story but the school can't take disciplinary action and campus police can't file charges based on that. They can't do much to investigate an unreported crime. I don't think they have standing to take any disciplinary action.

    I'm not sure what else to say. It sounds terrible. It feels terrible reading it. It makes me feel shitty for defending them so vociferously and I probably should have re-read the WP column and taken a second thought about engaging in a comment battle at all.

    But I still don't see where the school is clearly wrong, or clearly negligent at taking care of their students. What is it that the writer or you would do differently if you were in a position of authority there? Other than enact the culture-changing touchy-feely stuff you mock me for suggesting. How do you investigate a crime that isn't reported? How do you punish someone for it? For that matter, how do you fear losing your scholarship when you have a record of intimidating text messages to corroborate your story? How do you impugne an entire group of student athletes & a university for alleged, unverified crimes of one or two?

    I don't know. Maybe I just don't have the perspective to see it clearly. If it wasn't a school I went to, a community of people I know and many I still know, maybe I could be harsher. It certainly seems that something is wrong, and something needs to be done. I just don't know how to reconcile the portrayal of an institution committed to covering up rape with the place I know. The statistics on rape are horrible and I have no doubt it happens there, and I have no doubt it happens there and goes unpunished in some cases (or even most cases, as the statistics would imply). I just have trouble with the idea that it would happen there and could be punished but wouldn't be, on purpose. I'm not sure I can accept that based on hearsay.

  • JJ

    You can't play the "Do you know what happened?" card, and then yourself try the " What probably happened, however," gloss over the text messages, blame it on stupid teenagers, when something was amiss enough with procedures/culture/ and to warrant a seven month federal investigation by the Department of Education’s office of civil rights, which lead to many updates and changes.

    Then you stated that you are an alumnus, and I find myself wondering whether or not you'd be such a staunch defender and giver of the benefit of the doubt if this were at USC or Ohio State or Michigan (I don't mean that rhetorically and I know it would be speculation).

  • Miss Laaw-yuhr

    Being credible and admissible in court are two different standards; initially you asked for credible evidence that the rape victim was threatened which I provided, but now you relegate it to hearsay. I understand where you are and it's sad to witness: it takes increasingly tortured logic to defend an institution you love.

    The university is not powerless. Universities have a great deal of control over their students lives that are not limited to legal remedies. When the athletic officials received word that a girl who had just had a hospital rape exam was being threatened by players that should have triggered an immediate investigation. I think it's likely subpoenas could have been obtained for the digital evidence. Even if not, the university could have suspended all play and/or threatened scholarships until individuals came forward or provided access to their cell phones. Of course, if ND had investigated the first case of sexual assault, it's far more likely the rape victim would have reported the crime. The university could have made it clear in any number of ways that rape or helping to conceal rape is not acceptable under the university's moral code. It's actually their job - both morally and legally - to develop and implement just such policies. If you can't think of a single thing the school could have done, then you're not facing the problem honestly.

    You clearly have lost perspective, so I gently suggest that you at least start by reading the National Catholic Reporter article about the reported sexual assault. I don't suggest that the school actively concealed what happened, I state that at the very least they did nothing where they have an affirmative duty to act. As Edmund Burke's old chestnut goes "All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." As an alum you have an obligation to demand better of your school.

  • Miss Laawyuhr

    Addendum: I just read that the girl who was raped "did not go to school officials specifically because of what had happened to Seeberg, and because she's afraid she'll lose her scholarship if she does."

    If that isn't a failure on the part of the school's in loco parentis obligations, I don't know what is. The wrong that we must acknowledge is not that a boy may have violated girl, but more that an institution failed in its obligations to investigate what happened, and that it failed to create an atmosphere where victims could come forward. In these respects the university is an abject failure.

  • InternetMagpie

    Yes, this. The whole thing speaks to the culture of entitlement around (men's) college sports: no one thought to check in about this kid's DEAD GIRLFRIEND, because Manti/the story is more important than a DEAD GIRL, even if she is fake.

  • PaddyDog

    It would be nice if Notre Dame had put even half the effort they invested here (hiring a team of private investigators to look into the issue) into the claims of sexual assault and rape that have been alleged against some of their team. There is a real dead girl associated with ND football and her name is Lizzy Seeberg.

  • Carlito


    "A Tale of Two Dead Girls and Notre Dame Football"

  • KatSings

    Is some of the formatting on this crazy bananapants for anyone else? Or is it just me and my browser? I tried two of them, and there's weird boxes and stuff.

  • Bodhi

    Its weird for me too

  • It's happening to me, too. It was fine before though. I emailed Dustin. IT'S A NOTRE DAME PLOT AGAINST ME.

  • Kballs

    I take it the repeated writing of "Notre Damn" was intentional?

  • Brown

    Should be Notyour Dame.

  • Carlito

    "NoSuch Dame," which was already coined over in the comments section on Deadspin.

  • automatic365

    Notrue Dame

  • Nope, sure wasn't. No idea how that even happened. Probably because I don't know how to write words and not swear at the same time.

  • Kballs

    I have that problem with my mouth.

  • Scully

    I was *just* complaining that I don't understand this entire story while working in a American Football-obsessed office and you come to my rescue! All hail Godtopus.

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