It's confession time for Rick Reilly. If confessing the obvious is a confession at all.
Yeah, him and the entire American sports "journalism" establishment. Him and whoever is behind the team "features" aired during game-day broadcasts.
"Forgive us, Father, for we've fed the beast, constructing inspiring "narratives" out of -- if not whole cloth -- at least out of the fertile imaginations of university sports-information directors and PR staffs."
The acclaimed sportswriter came clean on ESPN.com about a week and a half ago, right after the Freeh Report set the record straight about what "doing things the right way" really meant at Penn State.
What a fool I was.THESE TWO THINGS are clear, and always have been whenever we didn't have our fingers in our ears while screaming "Neener! Neener! Cancelcancelcancel!"
In 1986, I spent a week in State College, Pa., researching a 10-page Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year piece on Joe Paterno.
It was supposed to be a secret, but one night the phone in my hotel room rang. It was a Penn State professor, calling out of the blue.
"Are you here to take part in hagiography?" he said.
"What's hagiography?" I asked.
"The study of saints," he said. "You're going to be just like the rest, aren't you? You're going to make Paterno out to be a saint. You don't know him. He'll do anything to win. What you media are doing is dangerous."
Jealous egghead, I figured.
What an idiot I was.
One, we like to hear what we want to hear. Two, the big business of major-college athletics loves lies almost as well as it does money -- lies grease the skids for "narrative" and narrative is what sells a product nowadays. Things can get ugly when reporters don't stick to the official narrative, which almost always causes them to fall back into line.
In other words, "What you media are doing is dangerous."