Why Sports Are Great

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This past Tuesday, of course, was Valentine’s Day. And it got me thinking about what I love. There’s a nice glass of scotch, poetry and of course my good friend Baxter. But even more so, I love sports.

Shocker, the sports editor of College Magazine loves sports. Well, shush. Scott Van Pelt calls sports the ultimate reality show. To me, it’s a step further. Like that first piece of advice my dad gave me when I received my driver’s license, sports means to “expect the unexpected.” And I can’t think of a better recent string of games that exemplifies the ultimate drama that is sports than this past month.

At the start of February, Eli Manning drove his team down the field in the final minute to defeat the New England Patriots. People forget how often Super Bowls end up being a complete sleeper, that the commercials often are more amusing than what’s taking place on the field. But this year, Super Bowl XLVI delivered. Manning became the joke of the league after he claimed he was elite – that he belonged in the same class as his opposing quarterback in that game, Tom Brady. It may not have been as blunt as Joe Namath’s guarantee 43 years ago, but talk about defying the odds.

Then there’s the talk of the basketball world, Jeremy Lin. A scrawny Asian who slept on his brother’s couch because he awaited his demotion back to the D-League, Lin all of a sudden reinvigorated the Mecca of basketball, what Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony failed to do. Now Lin gets more attention on SportsCenter, sports talk radio and Twitter than the Republican presidential candidates. His rise to stardom is the ultimate diamond in the rough story.

At the University of Maryland, the emotional rollercoaster from Friday night to Monday morning was like nothing I’ve seen before. On Friday, five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs opted to stay home and play for the Terps instead of national powerhouses like Florida, Ohio State and Auburn. And with the simple act of putting a hat on, Terps fans changed their entire view of the program’s future.

What followed was a case of the Mondays. That’s when quarterback Danny O’Brien he would no longer remain in College Park and instead continue his career elsewhere. A rumored destination: Vanderbilt, where former Maryland coach-in-waiting James Franklin wanted to reunite with O’Brien. Shock. Betrayal. Disappointment. You name it. The drop from Cloud Nine to reality was a long, harsh fall.

Last but not least, there’s the art of college hoops. Last week, we watched one of most exhilarating finishes to a game as we have in years. As time ticked down, Austin Rivers nailed a thorn in the side of North Carolina fans with a game-winning buzzer-beater. On the biggest stage in that sport, a 19-year-old became a prominent figure in a 60-year-long rivalry. Entering the game, Rivers never had a taste of this Duke-UNC rivalry; now he’s enemy No. 1 in Chapel Hill.

The unpredictability, the endless storylines, the unrivaled amount of emotion among coaches, players and fan bases in sports is unlike anything else in this world. There are heroes – the Jeremy Lins, the Austin Rivers, the Eli Mannings; and there are villains – the LeBron James’, the Bill Belichicks, the New York Yankees. And the best part: from one night to the next, the hero and villain can trade places, depending on what jersey you wear or what colors you bleed.

So sure, I could go drop $10 to see The Vow and pray that somehow, someway Rachel McAdams can find a way to rediscover her love for Channing Tatum. If I turn on Netflix, I can re-experience Jim’s and Pam’s love saga in The Office all over again (and love every second of it). But I can’t duplicate the excitement of sports with the click of my remote control. I can’t decide who is a hero and who is a villain out of the blue. I can’t predict that Mario Manningham is going to keep both feet inbounds to make a miraculous catch along the sidelines. All I know is that’s why sports are great.

Sam Spiegelman

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