Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Where Were You in 1986?" (or 1997?) (or 2008?)

One of the best sports clips I've ever watched. If you do one thing today, watch it.

The above Master's video begins with a deep Mississipian voice asking "where were you in 1986?" He answers, "I was a nine year old boy..." In 1986 I was only a distant thought in the back of my parents' minds -- a glimmer of hope in my mom's and a speckle of skepitcal fear in my father's, most likely. And before this past weekend, I probably couldn't even have told you that Jack Nicklaus won one of the most memorable Master's tournaments ever that year.

These minor facts mattered not in my watching of the video, though. For my mind didn't hear "where were you in 1986?". Rather, my mind heard "where were you on August 26, 1995? -- the day my dad took me to my first game at the Big House. My mind heard "where were you on that Saturday night in December, 1997?" -- the night my brother and I jumped up and down like hooligans on our living room sofa in our Michigan sweatshirts when they announced Charles Woodson's name on the television set. My mind heard, "where were you that June night in 2008?" -- one of the most memorable nights of college for me, as my buddies and I sprayed champagne off of our front porch and spray-painted 'Red Wings Stanley Cup' on Ann Arbor streets. My mind heard these things just as I'm certain many others who watched that video heard other moments particularly special to them.

It's memories like those that make me wonder if I put too much stock into the actual outcomes of the games I live and die for. Perhaps it's true, as some people say, that it's just a game, and that the moments spent with the people we care about while watching those events are the things that really matter. And of course it's true that watching sporting events with those people is just as meaningful, if not more meaningful, than the outcomes themselves.

But then I think about 1995. I couldn't pick out any other single date besides August 26 that I remember so vividly. And I think about 1997, and how I couldn't tell you one thing that happened that December other than the night Charles Woodson took college football's great prize. Do I remember any night from December 1997 if Peyton Manning takes that trophy? Nope. And I think about that June night when the Wings won the Cup. Any other day that summer? I've got nothing except generalizations; but that night I remember distinctly.

Without sports, those dates probably fall into obscurity, much like any other normal day where nothing significant ever really seems to happen. Can you even pick out a date from this month that you really remember that vividly?

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