No, it cannot. Sports reveal character, but we can’t truly know if whatever drove an athlete to greatness was nobility or obsession or a hidden reservoir of rage. We can’t truly know what fame does to somebody. We can’t know a person, not really, no matter how many TV interviews or magazine features or newspaper columns they are in.
Sports, and sportswriting, offers snapshots, glimpses, hints, or façades. Some of it is real, but none of it is ever comprehensive. We think we know, and we don’t, and we have to be reminded of this over and over again, because the lights are bright, and sports can be beautiful, and it causes us to forget, and believe again. Because we want it to be true.”