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What to take away from the Josh Shaw saga: No more heroes and villains

Shaw's strange story a lesson in cynicism.

Thearon W. Henderson

The cliché shouldn't be "you can't believe anything anymore," but instead, "you never should believe anything," at least at face value.

I don't need to refresh you on the details of the Josh Shaw saga, but in a nutshell, an off-the-field story has overshadowed the start of the Pac-12 action on the field and a big cornerback who was poised to potentially breakout in his senior season is the Pac-12's version of Manti Lite.

The specific incident has yet to be fully unraveled, and like so many dominating stories in media, most of it probably will never be fully peeled by those that aren't directly involved. Most likely, it will slowly fade into the ether as the season progresses, Shaw will go on to quietly get a shot at the NFL and maybe even make a career out of it, but by next year, we will have pretty much forgotten all about it.

I held back on writing a positive post, or even tweet about the initial Josh Shaw story and being the cynical curmudgeon that I am, I am prone to not be burned by this kind of stuff. Unfortunately the way the story with Shaw has unfolded thus far only further fuels my heavily skeptical view on anything and everything in sports news, and any news really.

There was a time when I was naïve, believed what was out there in the sports world news, but then against I wasn't even old enough to vote by the time that this pretty much evaporated. The days where running into a third-string Pac-12 safety on the streets of Seattle left me star struck or that I didn't take every feel good story with a grain of at least reduced-sodium soy sauce were gone by the time I was in college in the Pac-12 at parties drinking around athletes whom I had idolized just a few years before was sobering (but not literally).

A read of Scoreboard, Baby, some inside stories about phony family man coaches and "super religious" players partying and just general maturation later and I am now questioning every story like the initial Shaw nephew-saving tale the second I hear it and I kind of hate that. The massive turnaround and visibility of this story has compounded that skepticism and kind of served as the final straw in this behavior. Now, I can't help but ponder how many feel-good, or simply just stories about college football from the past were actually bullshit and/or cover ups for actually feel-bad stories. It was a lot easier to do that kind of stuff back before social media and when miserable PR people were able to control things.

On the other hand, all is not gloomy. The Shaw ankle/nephew/what the hell? incident has also continued to tip the scale in my overall view of how to take in narrative sports stories in a more realistic way. I like to refer to myself as Realistic Rick as opposed to Negative Nancy.

Instances like this I feel make me look at sports, athletes and people in general more in the realistic way that one should. Despite our love of casting every person in stories into Star Warsian "good" and "bad" guys, it simply is not realistic and in no way works. I don't know why this unrealistic viewpoint for nearly every story in the news, sports included just won't go away, but it is getting tiresome. I guess it sells and/or is easy to put together? But I'm not really sure about that.  In the world there are rarely, good guys and bad guys and stories are almost never as cut-and-dry as they may seem and these developments only further that point.

Until we the media, and the people who shovel in the stories can break out of this way of doing things, bizarre instances that make almost everyone involved look foolish like this Shaw saga are going to keep happening. It is probably going to take away from a chunk of legitimately admirable stories and figures and limit the amount of potentially-fabricated stories that those people that you are friends with on Facebook share, but in the end it is probably worth it to avoid living in a fantasy world with infallible figures.

So basically, don't believe anything you read in the world of sports... unless it is on Pacific Takes!