Author: Caroline Ponessa

Manti Teo a victim of catfishing

In his 2010 documentary, Nev Schulman used the term “catfish” to describe a person who uses a false identity to engage in online romances. MTV created a spin-off reality show in November 2012 in which Schulman helps people expose “catfishes,” but the term fully exploded to the mainstream in the wake of the recent Manti Te’o scandal.

On the morning of Jan. 16, Te’o had it all. Te’o, a senior linebacker and captain for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, was the Heisman Trophy runner-up and had just participated in the Bowl Championship Series, not to mention being a definite first-round draft pick in the upcoming 2013 NFL draft. Te’o had accomplished all of this despite the Sept. 12, 2012 deaths of both his grandmother and his girlfriend, Lennay Kekua – turning him into a nationwide inspiration.

At 4:10 p.m., the walls fell in on Te’o. The sports website Deadspin posted an article revealing that it was a hoax – not only was Te’o’s girlfriend not dead, she never existed.

Te’o had claimed his “relationship” with Kekua began following a 2009 Notre Dame loss at Stanford. A supposed student at Stanford, Kekua talked to Te’o every night on the phone in order to maintain their long-distance relationship.

Te’o was devastated when he learned that Kekua, the “love of his life,” lost her battle with leukemia only hours after the passing of his grandmother. Keeping his promise to Kekua that he would never miss a game, Te’o did not attend her funeral.

The story was heartbreaking and inspirational for those who watched as Te’o overcame such great emotional turmoil, and Deadspin’s article exposing the hoax sent shockwaves through the sports world. Confusion led many to wonder if Te’o fabricated the entire tragedy for publicity.

As days passed, private investigators dug further into the scandal until they found the man responsible – and that man was not Manti Te’o. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a 22-year-old California native, was the mastermind behind Kekua.

Tuiasosopo and Te’o met via Twitter in 2012, beginning an emotional relationship where Tuiasosopo tricked Te’o into believing he was Kekua. Te’o, unsure of what his family and friends would think of his relationship with a woman he had never met, has thus far only been found guilty of lying to the public about how he had met Kekua and trying to cover up the scandal after he learned he had been betrayed. There are still many holes in Te’o’s story, but Tuiasosopo supported Te’o’s claim to innocence when he admitted in a televised interview with Dr. Phil that Te’o was not involved in the lie.

In the same interview, Tuiasosopo revealed that he had fooled Te’o by speaking in a higher-pitched voice during their phone conversations and sending photos that were taken from a former classmate’s Facebook page. When asked if his romantic attachment to Te’o made him gay, Tuiasosopo responded by saying he was “confused.”

Tuiasosopo’s interview with Dr. Phil revealed a troubled mind with an equally troubled past. Te’o said that he wishes no ill will toward Tuiasosopo and hopes that Tuiasosopo gets the help he needs.

Sports and scandal have become synonymous with one another. While some scandals merely blemish an athlete’s career, others are entirely destructive. The repercussions for Te’o as he moves forward with his football career have yet to be revealed. Te’o has already become a nationwide punch line, but more importantly, the bad publicity may have significantly lowered his stock for the NFL draft. Regardless of what the future holds, the Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax will forever be one of the more confusing and unusual moments in sports history.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Hockey fans and players ride lockout blues – again

On July 4, Minnesota Wild fans rejoiced for more than just the holiday. The Wild announced that Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, two of the NHL’s biggest names, had signed long-term contracts to play for Minnesota. As the months passed, excitement for the upcoming season built, but Minnesota sports fans knew all too well that there was bound to be a letdown.

That letdown came Sept. 16 at 12:01 a.m. with the official announcement of the NHL lockout. The decision meant indefinite suspension of the 2012-2013 season until the collective bargaining agreement is settled between the National Hockey League Players Association NHLPA and the owners.

The new agreement, proposed by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, demands the players take a 17.5 percent pay cut. The pay cut would give the players only 47 percent of the total revenue – leaving the owners the remaining 53 percent.

The NHLPA countered Bettman’s offer by agreeing to drop its current portion of 57 percent to 53 percent, but Bettman didn’t budge. The lockout of the 2012-2013 season marks the third lockout under Bettman’s tenure.

“[In] the NBA and the NFL, players have recognized that, in these economic times, there is a need to retrench,” said Bettman in a news conference, referencing the recent NBA and NFL lockouts in attempt to gain support for his cause.

Bettman failed to mention that the NHL’s revenue had grown from $2.1 to $3.3 billion under the previous contract, a fact that suggests the struggling economy is not hindering the league’s monetary success. Rather, the money issues lie in individual organizations that consistently fall short in profits. These teams, unlike the Wild, are not located in hockey hotbeds and struggle selling tickets. The NHLPA believes the league’s budget should merely be tweaked to solve this problem; a complete re-proportioning of NHLPA salaries is unnecessary.

Players revealed their disappointment in the lockout and appealed to fans in a video that featured league standouts Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, among others.

“The system that is supposedly broken was designed by the NHL owners and the league itself,” Toews said in the video, a reference to the agreement formed following the last lockout. “We did our part in ’04-’05; the players that lost that season and maybe didn’t play another NHL game had to sacrifice that.”

“We don’t need to have a lockout,” said James Reimer, goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs. “We can keep playing and bargain at the same time, but that’s not what the owners want to do. They want to lock out and use it as a tactic. The fans lose the game they love.”

Under the lockout, all training facilities are closed and salaries withheld, causing many players to sign with European professional teams to bide their time.

Fans have made numerous YouTube videos, desperately pleading for an agreement. Unfortunately, fans have little power and will have to await the outcome.

The parties met again on Sept. 28-30 to iron out smaller issues, but core economic issues were not discussed. The talks followed the league’s decision to cancel all preseason games. Until the main revenue discrepancy is brought to the table, the jerseys will continue to collect dust and the ice will lay uncarved while fans and players remain deprived of the game they love.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote

Local Twitter accounts worthy of following

If you’re an avid tweeter like me, odds are you spend many of your idle moments perusing Twitter in search of a quick 140 characters or less laugh, insight or news bit. If you’re a tweeter and an Ole, I’m here to tell you that you’re in luck! There are numerous Twitter accounts that have sprung up in the past year that can provide a quick fix for all of these needs, with a campus-specific twist.

Obviously @StOlaf, the official St. Olaf college account, can provide information about all the happenings on the Hill. Most sports teams, clubs and committees are also now tapped into the Twitter world – posting scores, advertising events and advocating for their causes.

While these accounts are perfect for keeping Oles in the loop, a number of students have taken it upon themselves to provide the Olaf Twittersphere with a slightly more “unofficial” taste of life on the Hill.

The parody accounts @MyLifeIsOle and @OleGirlProblems have gained followers for tweets that leave Oles laughing and thinking, “Ah, I know exactly what that feels like.”

@MyLifeIsOle, a campus favorite, boasts 768 followers as of press time and is the inspiration behind the popular hashtag #MLIO My Life Is Ole. The bio for the account reads, “Classiest college in the world, smells like cookies, Carleton sucks, ’nuff said.”

A more gender exclusive account, @OleGirlProblems allows Ole ladies to bond over anything from the disappointment of not getting Friday Flowers to the perils of room draw and registration.

Serving a purpose as similar as their account names, @ISpyStOlaf and @iReallySpyStOlaf tweet funny observations of Oles doing unusual things or wearing unconventional clothing around campus – not quite sure it’s flattering to be the subject of those 140 characters.

Brand new to the St. Olaf Twitter scene are @PeopleofMellby and @OleGossipGirl. Both accounts have produced chuckle-worthy material thus far and are gradually establishing themselves within the Olaf Twittersphere.

Under the protection of Internet anonymity, the Ole accounts can post whatever they want, occasionally leaving their followers with the thought, “Um, did you really just say that?”

The parody accounts had gone unaddressed by the school until a conversation between @MyLifeIsOle and the official St. Olaf Twitter account occurred on Sept. 17.

The banter began when @MyLifeIsOle tweeted: “In other news as of today the official @StOlaf twitter follows me. The relationship is either gonna [sic] be hilarious or deadly,” to which @StOlaf replied “… or maybe a little of both?”

Thus, it seems that St. Olaf recognizes the humor and non-malicious intent of the St. Olaf Twittersphere.

While I would like to think the creativity of Oles is unrivaled, particularly in the Twitter world, St. Olaf was not the first campus to see a trend in parody accounts. Even our rival Carleton is among those schools that have jumped on the bandwagon although our anonymous Ole tweeters are obviously superior to the Knights.

The University of St. Thomas, our neighbors in the MIAC, engaged in a minor Twitter scandal last winter when the school took action after students garnered complaints over a parody account.

The students claimed the account, most similar to @OleGirlProblems, identified and accelerated many of the stereotypes of the St. Thomas student body and gave a bad impression of the college.

The complaints led St. Thomas to take immediate action, sending a message to the account demanding that it remove all “intellectual property” that the account did not have official consent to use. The account heeded the request by removing the university’s logo, all the while continuing to use the account as they had before.

That, fellow tweeters, is the beauty of free speech. So long as parody accounts do not claim to be officially affiliated with the college, it seems they will be able to continue filling newsfeeds with campusjokes worthy of Ole laughter. #MLIO.

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Proposed SGA Constitution changes put to the vote