Fizzy drinks, crunchy chips, and spicy dips littered the coffee table in the living room. The delicious snacks presented the salty aroma accustomed to the viewing of any sporting event. However, the spread lay untouched, as everybody in the room was focused on one thing: the game.
Eyelids widened, nostrils flared, and teeth gritted as every butt shifted to the edge of every seat. The atmosphere was tenser than in an AP test. This evening was a true testament to the term March Madness, with my family gathered to root for Duke in the championship game. As Dick Vitale would say, “It was crazy, baby!”
The reason for the tenacity of our cheering was bigger than a single game. My brother, a year out of college and still trying to find a job in his area of interest while living in Washington DC with my aunt and uncle, had entered my uncle’s office pool to pick this year’s NCAA bracket winners. If Duke won the game, he would win first place in the pool and the prize of 400 dollars.
While 400 dollars is nothing to live off of, that kind of money can be great relief after a year of unrewarded job-hunting. While my brother merely wanted to claim the money, he definitely needed to catch the break winning that prize presented. So almost our entire extended family rallied in front of the television to yell at the Blue Devils to win.
I like watching sports. I like seeing games in the company of family and friends. I like cheering on teams and trash talking the opposing sides, but mostly I just want to see a good game, full of action-packed highlight reels that would make Sportscenter anchorman Stuart Scott become ecstatic. However, this game, this one night, was different. I wasn’t watching a game or cheering a team for my own pleasure—I was rooting for my brother.
Sometimes a game is just that: a game. Thousands of people pack stadiums year-round to watch grown men make millions of dollars playing the same ordinary games children play everyday. Yet sometimes these games are more than just child’s play. Sometimes, a single sporting event can define a decade, even a generation.
At the height of the Cold War, the underdog United States hockey team beat the stronger Soviet Union in the 1980 Olympics. This victory stood for much more than a few goals on a scoreboard; thus, it was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice”. Instances such as this prove sports to hold far greater meaning for the fans as well as the players.
So, I screamed with the rest of my family as the final seconds on the clock winded down, with Duke barely pulling out a two-point victory. So, I called my brother as the rest of the living room shook with the celebration of my family. So, I laughed as I realized the magic of sports: the undeniable power of a game to mean more than a game, and a victory to mean more than points on a scoreboard.