There are two main reasons to follow sports. The first is to pick your rooting interest, and with your fellow fans, go through all the emotional ups and downs, hoping for a moment that makes it all worth it. The second is to see things that have never been seen before, and may never be seen again.
On June 23, 2010, we got both.
First of course was Team USA’s last minute goal to advance to the knockout round of the World Cup. Admittedly, most of the fans glued to the TV are far from lifelong. However, in just these two weeks, the emotions have run the gamut, from the early goal against England, to Robert Green’s gaffe, to giving up two early goals to Slovenia, to coming back, to the stolen goal. In yesterday’s game, there was yet more drama, with Algeria’s early shot off the crossbar to another goal taken away by officiating, and finally Team USA’s inability to finish. With all that, it’s no surprise the pouring of emotion when Donovan scored.
The second moment (if one can call it that) was the Tennis Match That Wouldn’t End. John Isner only had vague recognition, and Nicolas Mahut had none, but that started to change the instant ESPN2 went back to Wimbledon and it was 25-25. That was a little after noon. Over four hours later, they were still going. In a technical sense, it was a case of two bombing servers who are weak in return games. In reality, it was the personification of all those clichés coaches and commentators serve up: a show of heart, will, and never, ever giving up. In a fitting sense, just like the USA Soccer team. The match had to be called for darkness at 59-59, and today it finished with Isner winning the 5th 70-68, a score unfathomable had it not been witnessed.
In the end, these two moments, on a random Wednesday afternoon in June, featuring two sports that are not usually in the American consciousness, showed the other reason why sports can be so compelling.
You never know.