Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sports Talk: Loving Some (Delayed) Rivalry Weekend Excitement

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. This edition of my column was scheduled to be published Dec. 4, 2013 but never ran due to space issues.  
There is an episode of the TV show How I Met Your Mother where the five main characters suddenly realize they will not be able to watch the Super Bowl as they had been planning all week. They decide to simply postpone their ball game fun until the next night and all agree to not find out the result of the game until then. The episode brings numerous entertaining and funny situations as all five attempt to go through their normal Monday and not find out the winner of the game. 

I had my own small dose of this experience over rivalry weekend. While the Super Bowl is something everyone and their mother knows about, even watching your favorite team in delay without finding out the end result takes a real effort these days. 

It was quite an exciting weekend for my family in sports and social aspects. Not only was it the Ohio State-Michigan game, but ever since my brother attended vet school at Auburn University, the Auburn-Alabama rivalry has come to have meaning in our house as well. It was planned that our family "Wood Day" would take place Saturday where my siblings and family friends gather to help my parents build up their firewood supply for the winter. We knew this would interfere with both of the games we wanted to watch, but were all OK with simply recording the games and watching them that night.

Easier said than done.

It used to be common for my dad to record an Ohio State game and wait to watch it on a Sunday. It simply meant avoiding sports news on the TV that night and making sure the other football fans at church knew right away that he hadn't watched the game yet. Today, information travels so quickly and we acquire it in so many ways, it's a challenge to shut off all alleys of communication.

We do have the advantage of my parents living down a long gravel road in a valley so we didn't have to worry about running into someone who would spill the beans. However, we also had to avoid all social networks--no Facebook or Twitter or Google Plus--really it was safest just to avoid the Internet in general. Phones really became risky also. Not only could you not check your social apps, you had to be cautious of text messages and really just not check them. Most people were not aware we weren't watching the game, but know the Buckeye fans we are and wanted to chime in during the game. Smart phones in general were just trouble, because if you had any type of sports notifications set to your phone, there was a chance of big scores or updates popping across your screen.

Somehow, someway, though, we managed to disconnect ourselves from the online, connected world and stay in the dark about the outcomes of both games. However, I will say that even had we heard that Auburn took down Alabama, we might not have believed it watching the final minutes of the game when they were down seven and Alabama continued to drive the field. Talk about a crazy and fun end to any game--let alone a rivalry game where the winner is playing on their home field. And even for us, fans watching on screen, having been to games and tailgating at Auburn made it that much easier to imagine what it must have been like to be there.

I was extra grateful we watched our two games in delay because of the fact my six-week-old baby girl did not allow me to tune in completely to the OSU game and had me miss the Auburn game completely; yet after hearing how incredible the AU game was, I was able to watch it Sunday on the DVR. Fan of either team or not, if you enjoy football, this game was as entertaining as they come and if you have the opportunity to watch it, don't pass it up.

I have two favorite parts to Auburn's victory. First, the fact that the decision about whether regulation time expired when T.J. Yeldon's foot hit out of bounds made Alabama fans happy, but inevitably resulted in Auburn's victory. That one second seemed to be a major threat to the Tigers but it ended up being the greatest thing that could have happened to them. Chris Davis' 109-yard return will go down in history as possibly the greatest ending to any college football game. Seriously, if Hollywood had given us that game, no one would have believed it.

My second favorite part are all of the reactions--primarily to Auburn fans, obviously. One of my favorites, though was watching (listening to) the Auburn announcer commentary during the final play. The shrill, in-the-moment excitement and realization of what was happening as it unfolded is great. Announcers like to be entertaining but keep it together for the most part. In this case, the announcer cannot hold back his disbelief and excitement, repeatedly shouting, with his southern accent, "Auburn's gonna win the football game!! Auburn's gonna win the football game!" (Close second was watching the ball boy run down the field alongside (as best he could) Chris Davis, only to slip and fall when he reached the end zone.)

The play itself was unbelievable, but the game all around was a great one--so many missed opportunities and mistakes for both teams, and so many great plays at the same time. Chris Davis just might become Alabama's own Christian Laettner with the finish that game brought. It's a play that will be remembered by both teams forever and shown again and again.

Between that play (and the win it resulted in) and the Buckeye win, I can't complain much at all about the beginning of this holiday season. We're definitely off to a fantastic start in this family!

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