Thanks to Manti Te'o and his infamous fake dead girlfriend, there is approximately zero people in the world who don't know what "catfishing" is. As bizarre as that story might be, it seems that college sports heroes being targeted in such schemes is now a thing. As it turns out, Michael Roth, the hero of the South Carolina Gamecocks team that has gone to three straight College World Series (winning twice) and current LA Angels prospect was also a victim of catfishing.
She called out of the blue one day and said she was coming to Columbia for a football game. I was drawn back in. I wanted to find out if this girl really existed. Apparently, she knew some guy that played for Arkansas and that’s why she was making the trip. Of course, something happened and she never showed up. I wasn’t surprised, but just interested in how crazy and weird this whole thing was. I would get the occasional text and would just ignore it. She would keep texting, and I would keep ignoring. Did this girl not get the message? I thought she was gone until the night before the opening game of the 2011 season when she texted me, “Good Luck!!! ” I was thinking “WHAT?!?!?!?!?” After the game, I got a “How did it go?” We exchanged a few texts. The same thing happened the next weekend. And the next. It was like clockwork. And, I was pitching well. Because baseball players are superstitious, I stuck with it. It is shameful some of the things we will do to play well, isn’t it? It continued throughout the season. We made it back to the CWS, and she said she was coming. This time Texas was actually in the CWS and she supposedly dated one of their pitchers. Seemed like a legit excuse, right? Of course the CWS came and went, and she could never meet up.
Roth's story is far less explosive than that of Te'o in that Roth got suspicious of "Hope Porter" pretty quickly. But even with that skepticism, Roth admits that he stayed in contact with the girl for an entire year nonetheless, partly out of morbid curiosity but it seems partly out of being a guy in his early-twenties who was hoping to hook up with a hottie. Who knew that college athletes were prone to overriding their better judgment because they were thinking with their privates instead of their brains? That never happens!
Fortunately, Roth got a much happier ending to his tale of anonymous internet romance gone wrong:
I googled her number and some awesome results popped up. Why hadn’t I thought of that before? I have no clue. I literally had never thought of googling her phone number. The number was in a few chat rooms. All of which had the same story. Girl from Texas. Hope Porter. On and on. Her number was tied to some man in Texas, but not with the last name of Porter. The guys in the chat room said they had confronted her about it. She said it was her Uncle. They pushed her further. Finally, she said she was initially doing a project to see if someone could fall in love over the phone. She was supposed to end it after a few months, but after talking with them for a while, she enjoyed it so much that she just kept doing it. Armed with this information, I made the phone call. It was expertly rehearsed. Same script. With who knows how many people. I told her to never call me or text me again. And that was the end. I have yet to hear from her since.
After reading the entire post, it is easy to see how a young man who is perhaps a little more naive, a little less self-aware or even just a little less skilled with the ladies might actually swallow a Hope Porter/Lennay Kekua catfishing attempt hook, line and sinker. How many of them would later resort to faking their imaginary internet girlfriend's tragic demise? Well, that's an entirely different story altogether.