Archive for Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Eephus Pitch

April 10, 2008

It was the best night of my life. It was better than the December evening in 2006 when I got my journalism degree from Kansas University. It was better than the night KU won the Orange Bowl. And it was better than Saturday night, the night the Jayhawks got redemption against the man - an afterthought now - who double-crossed them.

Monday, the night KU won the national championship in college basketball, was a night I will never

forget.

And I feel very fortunate to have gotten the chance to share the experience with some of the people I love the most.

That was part of what made it special and one reason I love sports. Seldom can events in life draw people together like the experience of wanting something so badly together, and having the desired event actually occur.

Thinking about it, I want to draw an analogy but I don't think one exists. A person has to be careful, because survival was not on the line. No lives would be lost had KU lost to Memphis, but it was the next closest thing in terms of what was at stake.

For me, maybe it's comparable to if my uncle were to win an African safari hunting trip for two. I would want to be the lucky soul who went with him. That's the sort of once-in-a-lifetime event KU's championship felt like.

That kind of pressure and tension is what it's all about; the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

I saw grown men cry. Strangers were hugging and dancing in the streets. In the bar and grill where I watched all the games with some of my closest friends, people were standing on the bar after Mario drained the shot that spawned overtime.

I'll always remember Crimson and Brews was the place where I was when KU won it all. That's were I was when Bill Self captured his first national championship and became a hero to KU fans. I was beside my brother, and amongst the people that I love most in Lawrence. There was no other way to watch the game - too much was at stake.

Not that many times in life do we get the chance to feel the jubilation, the thrill, of something like that.

I imagine if the Chiefs were to win a Super Bowl Kansas City would come close, but with colleges it's different because the fan base is different. College students seem like one of, if not the, most passionate fan base in all of sport. Older fans are probably smarter fans, but as far as raw passion younger fans go to greater lengths in pulling for their team. They are far less worried about looking foolish, and have less overall perspective in life.

But I can't think of any other thing in life where you can get so caught up than in sports. Nowhere else is it understandable or justified for one adult to go up to another adult - a stranger - and shake beer all over them both. I saw that Monday night. It didn't matter who a person was or what walk of life they came from, everybody was on the same side. No arguments could break out.

That is the beauty of sports.

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