Viewpoint: The Powerful Effect of Sports

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The score was 55-40, and the end of the basketball season seemed inevitably close.

All the campouts, the flash mobs, the Cecil cheers, the pictures with Cosmo, the raw voices in the morning would have to be put out of our memory until next November.

The second half started, and the season began to flicker like a candle in the wind.

Twenty minutes of game-time elapsed and produced what had been unthinkable: a 78-72 win for BYU.

An incredible performance by Noah “The Bald Baller” Hartsock and key adjustments by Coach Dave Rose resulted in an performance that is difficult to describe to those who did not watch the game live.

The comeback story is one that captures the attention of all sports fans. Whether it’s Riley Nelson leading the football team back against Utah State, or Danny Ainge dribbling the length of the court in five seconds for the win, those moments are burned into our memory. I wasn’t alive for the coast-to-coast by Ainge, but it is still something that I remember.

There are other moments in sports that stick out in my memory. The Red Sox coming back from a 3-0 deficit and then winning the World Series in 2004. LeBron James scoring 29 of the final 30 points against the defending world champion Detroit Pistons in 2005. Reggie Miller scoring eight points in nine seconds against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. Boise State capping the Cinderella story in the Rose Bowl. Landon Donovan giving the entire United States goosebumps in the 2010 World Cup.

All these events show the powerful medium that sports can be. Sports give fans the opportunity to invest in something outside of their life. The crack of the bat, the pop of the net, and the screams of the crowd inspire in ways that few other things can.

Will Brock Zylstra’s game-capping, length-of-the-court drive go down in BYU lore as one of the greatest plays in Cougar history? Or is it Hartsock’s 3-pointer to give BYU the lead for the first time in the game?

These incredible moments in sports history are one of the reasons that sports brings me so much joy. As a fan, when the team succeeds, I feel like I have succeeded. When the team fails, I feel as if I have failed as well.

Being able to care about something passionately gives all of us the chance to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Individual students join together to be part of a screaming field of white or blue. Voices blend together to rise and shout and let everyone know that the Cougars are out.

I love sitting around with a group of friends and telling stories of those great moments in sports. I’ve seen quite a few while at BYU, spanning from the Beck to Harline miracle to the Nelson fake spike for the win in the Armed Forces Bowl.

I look forward to the day when I will be able to tell stories of the great things I saw while at BYU to the next generation of True Blue Cougar fans. I’ll tell them the tales of Jimmer and Jackson, and of the accomplishments of Fui Vakapuna, Andrew George and Max Hall.

Why? Because that’s just what fans do. It’s part of my BYU experience, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I won’t recommend skipping classes to watch the men play, but try to find a way to follow the game. The game should be starting around 12:45 on Thursday.

The women play Saturday, in their first NCAA appearance since 2007. I was lucky enough to be right there in the Orleans Arena as they beat Gonzaga for the WCC Championship. Those women can flat out play. Will the game against DePaul have its own moment of, “Where were you when …?” You’ll have to watch to find out.

So no matter the outcome of the game Thursday against Marquette, or against DePaul on Saturday, BYU students should remember the fantastic finish to the game Tuesday. Enjoy the games that take up our evenings and weekends. Would you want it any other way?

Daniel Lewis is a sports editor at The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents his opinion and does not necessarily represent the opinions of BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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