Last week saw the much-discussed admission of cheating by cyclist Lance Armstrong during an interview with Oprah Winfrey, and it appears as though this week will also be notable for a televised talk between a female journalist and individual sports personality, as an interview between Katie Couric and american football player Manti Te’o has been announced.
Te’o, who plays linebacker for college team Notre Dame Fighting Irish, was the victim of a ‘catfishing’ incident, admitting last week that he had been fooled by an elaborate hoax. The story began when Te’o announced that he had lost both his grandmother and his girlfriend in the space of a day on 11 September 2012, and following strong praise for his performances during the 13-game season where he helped his team reach the BCS National Championship Game, which was lost to Alabama Crimson Tide, though Te’o was recognised for his high-quality play through the season in the wake of personal tragedy.
A few days after that championship game on 7 January, a group of journalists were tipped off about the supposed girlfriend Lennay Kekua (thought to have died of leukemia), and after investigations into the story, it became clear that Kekua (who Te’o claimed to have met online and dated despite never meeting in person) never existed, a personality fabricated by ‘mutual friend’ Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who used pictures of another girl to continue the cruel hoax.
The extent of Te’o's knowledge on the matter is currently unknown (with cynical people likely to suggest that he went along with the ‘dead girlfriend’ story to somehow gain more notability in his sporting career), though the interview with Katie Couric (set to air on Thursday (24 January) on ABC syndicated talkshow Katie, where Manti’s parents Brian and Ottilia Te’o will also be present) will probably reveal more on the unusual story, and offers a platform for campaigners against ‘catfishing’ online, a practice of creating fake personas on the internet, which while generally harmless can cause real trouble if taken to extremes, as seen in this instance.
It will be the first time that Te’o (who is likely to be drafted to the professional league NFL for the 2013 season) has spoken publicly since admitting he had been hoaxed, but will the exclusive interview (which ABC claim will be promoted on the day with segments on Good Morning America and ABC News programmes) manage to achieve what Oprah did and dig a little deeper into this unusual sports story?