Thursday, June 24, 2010

Games and Fun

Raise a glass to stoppage time. And while we have our hands raised and our arms outstretched let us toast the magic of Landon Donovan. Donovan - having been sent galloping up the field on the receiving end of an outlet pass from New Jersey's own Tim Howard that was reminiscent of the halcyon days of Bill Walton at UCLA - willed our national team into the Knockout Round of the World Cup. I admit that I have a fervent pro-soccer bias. I played the game for four years a lifetime ago (high school) and have always loved it. I always chafe a bit at those who are not fans and whose pat gripe about soccer is that the typically low final score is somehow reflective of the lack of excitement that goes on during the game. Yesterday's game was extraordinary.

Perhaps some of the non-believers were watching the telecast or listening to the radio broadcast (as I did driving North on the Turnpike back to my office from a court appearance in Camden County). If they were and they woke up this morning still non-believers, then the cause is hopeless. Yesterday's game, while it produced just one goal, produced non-stop, end-to-end action and the play - while sometimes ragged - was spirited.

On the soccer pitch of South Africa was not the only place in the sporting universe where memorable moments occurred yesterday. I know less about tennis than 95% of the world and at gunpoint - with my life on the line - I could not correctly identify John Isner or Nicolas Mahut if the three of us were the only people in the room. Yet I marvel at the fact that the two of them spent seven hours yesterday playing a single set of tennis at Wimbledon and at day's end - having played 118 games - they stood tied at 59. At some point today they shall return to the court in an effort to finish a five-set match that has thus far taken 10 hours to play. All of us are familiar with the old saw, "to the victor goes the spoils". What are the spoils at stake for Messrs. Isner and Mahut? A spot in the second round. Nothing more. Merely an opportunity to play another that hopefully does not require the winner of this one to spend another 10 hours to complete.

Sports are often times a useful metaphor for life. An opportunity presents itself and we do all that we can to avail ourselves of it. We do not always succeed. And even when we do, we know not whether the success we have achieved - at that moment in time - is our one and only or if it is a harbinger of things to come. Yesterday afternoon Landon Donovan and his teammates won a memorable game. And all it assured them is the opportunity to play another day. Neither Isner nor Mahut won a damn thing yesterday. Or did they?

Didn't we all?


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