Now now, I know that I don't usually subject you to my ramblings about sports because, well, because you really don't give a shit. But I am going to talk about it anyway because in the course of the past weekend I saw not only one of the most entertaining college football games ever and what it probably the most entertaining hockey game I have ever seen.
Yeah, that's the thing about sports. It gives you that same feeling when it goes well. I mean, aside from the whole deal where you pick a team and stick with them and the rivalry and the camaraderie and all that stuff, it has the opportunity to give that primeval feeling that makes us feel so good. It's the same feeling that all of you movie buffs get in the dark theater when you are on the edge of your seat and you have no idea what twist the screen will present next. It's that same feeling you get when you amusement-park types get when you are on a roller coaster and you are RIGHT ABOUT to go over the top of the lift for the very first time. It's that feeling of controlled unknown, that sort of mixture of fright and disbelief and delight because you never quite know what is going to happen next.
That's the feeling that you can get from sports in the right situation, but as an added bonus you get athletic competition, and there is something impressive about watching athletes create feats of grandeur against one another. Let's start with the football game, a college bowl game, between two unnamed schools. If you really care all that much you will go figure out which game I am talking about but I am sure you don't. Team A won finally in overtime after they thought they had won roughly three times in regulation. They were the big name team having a bit of a down year. Team B seemed to have nine lives. Their quarterback threw a crippling five interceptions but twice brought his team back from fourteen points down, and they were saved by bonehead penalties several times, eventually losing because they gambled in overtime because their kicker was injured. It was the individual performances that added to the top of that edge-of-your-seat feeling that made it so memorable. I am stupid, because I saw all the cool stuff on replay because I kept getting up to do things. I mean, I should be smart enough to know that I shouldn't be getting up or missing a single play as I was watching that game, but I did and I was continually missing great stuff. That is a game, between two teams that I care nothing about, that I would watch over and over and over and always be surprised by the result.
So what about hockey? I attended a hockey game in person that was like that. I don't think that I have ever lived and died so many times in the space of three hours, but it was amazing. It was one of those spectacles, won by the good guys 12-11 in a shootout that makes all those 0-0 ties worth sitting through. There were go many highs and lows it was unbelievable. Three goals by the bad guys in quick succession to start the game. The home team battling back. The home team goalie allowing many goals that he shouldn't have. The home team scoring three goals in about a two minute span at the start of the third period to take a two goal lead. The bad guys scoring two goals in the last minute to tie. A full-on gloves-off old fashioned hockey fight that played a major impact in the outcome of the game. Major performances by individuals on both sides in the shootout, including the game winning save by the aforementioned maligned goalie. It was great, and it will live in infamy in the minds of the winners and losers as well for years and years to come. For that time, everything else melted away. The bills, the phones, the problems, the bitter cold outside. I didn't care that I didn't know the guy next to me. I didn't care that I couldn't feel my feet very well. None of it mattered because I couldn't turn my eyes from the ice.
That is the essence of sports. If you don't get into the whole deal, that's fine, but it still has the very basic ability to create that sort of visceral feeling way down deep inside, and that is before it inspires things like allegiance and devotion and hatred and before you start to see all the bad stuff that taints it like the money and the commercials and the players pulling guns on one another in the locker room after a game over a gambling debt. It's still basic. It's still great. It's sports.