the question must be asked, but I'd like to think there's a dividing line between those of us who temper our irrational affinity for sports with a certain amount of perspective and sanity, and those who actually believe laughing in the midst of defeat is some sort of capital offense, and are probably the same the people who bother to phone death threats to college sports bureaucrats, and are in danger of some kind of grand, Buffalo 66/Big Fan-esque spiral of humiliation and ignominy.
2. Which brings me to Boise State, and the worst column I've ever written. I was in college, of course, and Penn State's kicker missed a field goal to lose a game. I cannot remember the game, and I cannot remember the circumstances, but for some reason, this inflamed my sense of righteous indignation to the point that I ended my column with the emphatic declaration: "Leave (said kicker) alone." A few days later, I was at a fraternity party when some girls recognized me from my photo. "You wrote that column about (said kicker)?" they asked, and when I nodded in the affirmative, they giggled and walked off. And so went my first lesson in the dangers of overt self-righteousness; that column was the first of many missed attempts in my career. Which is why I am glad I fell asleep before the end of that Boise State game, because there is nothing more demonstrably more painful in sports than a kicker failing in a clutch situation; it is a nightmare come to life. It is us standing in our underwear. It is us forgetting our lines. It is a scenario that makes for great literature, of course--and I suppose there's a bit of irony in the fact that I shanked my first attempt at capturing those emotions in such a major way. I still wish I could take it back, that I could have tempered my thoughts in a more elegant manner, but I can't. I'm sure, at some minute level, Kyle Brotzman feels the same way.
3. It is amusing how everyone tacitly acknowledges that the NBA regular season is essentially meaningless until March/April, but the Heat appear to be dead in the water after eighteen games.
4. Just when I thought narrative journalism, I returned from frigid New England to read this excellent piece on Laura Hillenbrand, and this outstanding piece by Chris Jones on Randy Quaid, and this edifying two-part interview with magazine writer extroardinaire Michael Paterniti, who published this ridiculously good Thurman Munson profile a few days after I'd published my own Thurman Munson profile in the Akron Beacon Journal Sunday Magazine, which even now serves as a humbling reminder that I'm not too far removed from being the clumsy bozo who wrote all those terrible columns in college.