Manti Te’o and the importance of honesty

by Josh Burkholder – “SportStance” Columnist

If you follow the world of sports, or have just gotten on the internet or watched the news in the past month, chances are that you have heard of the Manti Te’o scandal.  Te’o, a linebacker for the University of Notre Dame, supposedly had been dating a woman named Lennay Kekua exclusively on the internet and by phone.  In September, Kekua was reported to have died of leukemia.  Te’o received much support and many condolences for his loss, and was the source of inspiration for many who watched him carry on, continuing to play after the tragedy.  Recently, several news and media outlets reported that Lennay Kekua was not a real person, and the whole girlfriend thing was a hoax.

The media swarmed and an uproar ensued. Te’o continues to claim that he was not a part of the hoax, and had no idea that Kekua never existed. But the damage is done. On Saturday the LA Times reported the results of a Neilsen/E-Poll survey, the “Ten Most Disliked Athletes in America.”  Topping the list: Lance Armstrong. Number two? Manti Te’o.

But is the ranking fair? Is Te’o telling the truth?  Even if we believe that Te’o was duped, there were many times that his stories were found to be conflicting and hard to believe.  Te’o says that he never met Kekua in person and did not even Skype with her.  Even when she was supposedly very sick with leukemia, he never even went to visit her.  In fact, he said “it never really crossed my mind.”  I’m sorry, but I just have a very hard time believing that someone would not want to visit their dying girlfriend.  Also, even though Te’o claimed he never met her in person, the player’s father gave a detailed account of how the couple met at a football game and took a trip to Hawaii together afterwards.  Who is lying?

As I have experienced over and over in my life, lying gets you nowhere, especially the bigger the lie gets and the more people learn of it.  It just amazes me sometimes at what some people think that they can get away with by lying.  I mean, let’s be honest, I am sure there have been times where people get away with a huge hoax.  However, more often than not, the hoaxer gets into more trouble when they get caught than they would have been in if they had just told the truth in the first place.

This is something that I would encourage everyone here at Hesston, as well as wherever anyone else who reads this may be, to remember.  Things come apart so easily when they are held together with lies.  For every good reason there is to lie, there is a better reason to tell the truth.  There is a little saying that I am sure most of you have heard: The truth shall set you free.  Remember that.

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