As far as wild sports days go, you’ll be hard pressed to ever see another day quite like Wednesday, January 16, 2013. It’s the best reminder of why the world of sports is so captivating to fans and non-fans alike, and the events of that day have temporarily turned everything upside down.
Early Wednesday morning, as you woke up and had breakfast, you were hit with the news that Lance Armstrong, the once determined Tour de France winner, would finally admit his cheating to Oprah Winfrey. The interview would come on Thursday night. What exactly would Armstrong admit to doing? How would he say it? What would the fallout become?
All morning long, perhaps with your coworkers or family, you wondered about these variables aloud and probably discussed them to death. Perhaps you scrambled to find where Oprah’s television network was on the channel lineup to preset set the DVR. Around lunchtime, you might have finally been able to move on.
Yet, over lunch, more was happening. Those NFL fans among us were hit with the news that Chip Kelly, the coach of the Oregon Ducks, would be leaving the college ranks to coach the Philadelphia Eagles. Just a few weeks ago, Kelly had apparently made the decision that he wasn’t going to leave college, and would instead stay with Oregon. Shockingly, with one bit of breaking news, it suddenly wasn’t so. Kelly had gone back on his initial word, and was Philadelphia bound.
If you love football, you probably scrambled to find fellow fans to take their temperature on the issue in the early afternoon. Was Kelly a liar? Would his fast-paced offense succeed or fail in the NFL? Would beleaguered Michael Vick be the one to lead this offense? Quickly, the Armstrong news seemed so this morning to sports people.
So on your day went at work or school, perhaps with a smattering of personal normalcy. Between the hours of 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., nothing new happened in the pop culture or sports realm. You got home, perhaps grabbing dinner. After that, in between playing with the kids, finishing up some work or running errands, maybe you had a relaxing moment to yourself.
On the television or computer went, where more shocking news was waiting for you. Manti Te’o, the star linebacker at Notre Dame who had spent the entire fall crafting an image as a hardened leader shaped by the immense personal loss of his girlfriend, had deceived everyone by being deceived. His deceased girlfriend Lennay Kekua, the one who motivated him to rack up 12 tackles against Michigan State and two interceptions against Michigan? She reportedly never existed. Te’o himself was either in on a scam or shockingly deceived, the victim of a phenomenon called “catfishing.”
Going to bed, after you looked that term up in the Urban Dictionary, you wondered about everything you had learned. Was nothing sacred in the world of sports? Could you even trust your sports heros to be sports heros anymore? In a world where a man who beats cancer lies about doping during bike races, a head coach who gave his word to college kids suddenly leaves them high and dry and a star linebacker’s highly publicized personal life is part lie, who or what could you even trust anymore?
Days like Wednesday are exactly why we love the world of sports. Despite the fact we like things in our own lives to be routine and normal, we always love a good scandal or a good shock when it doesn’t relate to us. We love the unpredictable. Some people live for such things, and sports has become perhaps the most unpredictable theater. Don’t let the cynics in their ivory towers fool you; waiting for this stuff is now a part of our very fabric as Americans. When three shocking things happen consecutively in one day? For many, it was probably almost too good to be true.
There might not be another day quite like this past Wednesday for a long time, but secretly, we’ll always long for one. Three events, morning, noon and night, temporarily turned the sports world upside down. Each one registered uniquely powerful on the “sports shock” Richter scale.
What will happen next? When will it happen? Where will you be? Just stay tuned.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax