A League of Her Own: Say it ain’t so

Heather Harris

Sitting against the gym wall, watching my son play basketball last Saturday morning, a poster on the wall caught my eye.

“Sports reveal character”

The statement struck me. It couldn’t be more relevant, considering what is going on in the news with Lance Armstrong and Manti Te'o.

Both men bamboozled the public, each with their own respective deceit.

Te'o’s fictional dead girlfriend was highlighted in a Sports Illustrated story. Part of the blame obviously falls on the writer of the article. Did he not think to hunt down the girl’s family, or provide a photo of the couple in the article?

But Te'o never spoke up. Fear perhaps, of a lie that he couldn’t possibly take back without looking like a fool.

Then there is Armstrong…He is, for lack of a better word, diabolical.

His string of lies actually makes me question if the man even had cancer.

My Uncle Paul was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2001. Sadly, we lost him to the disease in 2002.

During his battle, many people dropped off Armstrong’s book, “It’s Not About the Bike”.

I’ll never forget what he said after he read it. He didn’t like the cyclist.

“That is one angry man,” my uncle said.

I disagreed with him at the time. I defended Armstrong and was one of the millions who fell for his story.

But my Uncle Paul’s instincts were correct. Somehow he saw through the smoke and mirrors.

I defended Armstrong often over the years when questions of drugs came up. I rationalized that that he was so adamant in his books, stating he could never get away with it because he was tested so often. Never considering that he may have figured out a way to beat the system.

The whole mess just makes me sad.

So often we put athletes up on these pedestals, not really knowing who they are. We listen to the public relation-pitched version and believe in the image presented before us.

Our adoration should be directed elsewhere.

To parents, who battle through each day trying to raise their children the best they know how. To teachers, who create the building blocks for our children’s education. To police and fire personnel, who sacrifice holidays and nights to protect our communities. To doctors and nurses who educate themselves to help us heal.

To the patient quietly battling cancer with grace. To the special needs child who overcomes odds and never complains. To the school bus drivers, who transport our children safely to school and home each day.

Take a moment and look around. Inspiration is all around us.

We don’t always have to look on the football field, the hockey rink or baseball diamond to find it.

Heather Harris is reporter for the Norton Mirror, Mansfield News and Easton Journal. A three-sport high school athlete and two-sport college athlete, sports have long been a passion of hers. The mother of two can be seen hanging-ten through the streets of Mansfield where she currently resides. Heather Harris can be reached at