If sports can strike awe in the collective imagination of the spectator, the player, or the manager in moments of triumph, the day after can be pretty damn good, too. The Yankees lost 22-0 to the Cleveland Indians the night before my school year began in 2004. For the entirety of the next day, I had, and seized, the opportunity to warn the Yankees fans at my high school of their team’s impending doom. As we began our classes, each student had to sign up for a day to give a presentation on current events in social studies class. My chosen date was October 28. By sheer luck, this was to become the day after the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. Never mind that the momentous 2004 election was only a week away, the title slide of my presentation featured a picture of the euphoric celebration inside Busch Stadium. Let’s take one last opportunity to savor the biggest and best sports moments of 2010:
5) Michael Vick returns to glory. The Eagles may have faltered in the playoffs, but Vick, at an advanced age for a running quarterback in the NFL, far exceeded Philadelphia’s wildest expectations. The Eagles-Giants game this past December, in which Vick led the Eagles back from a three touchdown deficit, won’t be forgotten for a long time.
4) Landon Donovan puts the U.S. through to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Yes, I understand that Spain won the World Cup. I know that the U.S. doesn’t have a signature skill player comparable to Messi or Ronaldo. Still, I’m a sucker for sports montages, and “The World’s Reaction to Landon Donovan’s Game Winning Goal” on YouTube just about does it for me. Not to mention, I somehow had the fastest streaming connection in my office at CERN, so I was the first to see what had happened. The World Cup let me indulge in the “we was robbed” mentality that soccer games, and their “clearly-biased-against-my-team” officials, always inspire.
3) Butler/Duke in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game. Let’s suppose Gordon Hayward hits that half-court shot at the buzzer. Is there even a conversation about the best sports moment of the year, of the decade, or in all of college basketball history?
2) The Summer of the NBA. Firstly, the Lakers vanquish the Celtics in a seven-game series in the NBA Finals. Secondly, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, and Dwayne Wade are signed by the Miami Heat. Finally, it is decreed by the journalistic community that all such transactions or movements of personnel must be described using the phrase “I/He/She/They am/is/are taking my/his/her/their/its talents to Company X/Team Y/Location Z”.
1) Canada’s Gold in Hockey: Sidney Crosby, the player that has been hailed as the Next One for some time, finished the job against the Americans in the most glorious setting imaginable. If you know some Canadians, be a friend and congratulate them on their country’s triumph. Also, reassure them that Russia’s world champion junior squad won’t be ready to beat the Canadian Olympic team for at least another year or two.
Unfortunately, it just wasn’t Boston’s year. The Bruins collapsed in the second round of the playoffs. The Celtics came up short in the NBA Finals. The Patriots fell to the Jets in this year’s playoffs and to the Ravens in last year’s playoffs. The Red Sox were held back by countless injuries and didn’t make the grade in the formidable AL East.
However, to me, a firm believer that sports is not a zero-sum endeavor, it was a fantastic year for sports. My softball team made an improbable run to the final of the midseason Geneva softball tournament. Never mind that we lost by fifteen runs in the final; when our left-fielder made a juggling catch over his shoulder for the final out of the semi-final, I felt like Manny Ramirez or Johnny Damon in 2004, storming in from the outfield to celebrate a World Series title. In 2010, Tiger Woods, NCAA eligibility scandals, “The Decision,” and allegations of corruption in FIFA all came and went across our TV screens. Despite all this, it’s clear to me that the true spirit of sport lives on through 2010 and into the future.