Tuesday, January 11, 2011
On That What-The-Hell Happened Moment
Dyer's run was a what-the-hell-happened moment that symbolized this what-the-hell-happened season. The national title was decided on a play in which everyone stood still and stopped playing.--Pat Forde, ESPN
And now, of course, there is controversy, because there is always controversy, because a play like that could not precipitate a pushback by the losing side and by those obsessive freaks who have the time to blow up a photograph to elephantine proportions in order to determine whether Michael Dyer's ankle tape is part of his ankle, or whether the wrist is part of the hand which is attached to the elbow bone which was precipitated by butterflies in the stomach. Dyer was down, Dyer wasn't down: Such is the ageless mantra of an otherwise arrhythmic championship game, the kind of game that exactly no one predicted but, given the 40-day layoff brought on by the infinite wisdom of the bowl system, we probably should have expected.
What's amazing is that we have instant replay, and even instant replay cannot eliminate those last slivers of human error. Maybe that's a bad thing, but I don't think it is. Because the games I remember most are the ones that hinge on controversy: On whether Mike Guman may have somehow scored in the 1978 Sugar Bowl, on whether Mike McCloskey was out of bounds, on whether that final second should have even been on the clock in the first place. Because sometimes the best thing about sports is that the argument can seem so innocuous by comparison with actual life. From now on, Oregon fans will identify themselves through that play, for better or worse; their pain will build character in a program that's mostly associated with cheaply made workout apparel and hideous regalia. Dyer Was Down.
In the real world these days, the arguments we're having are the true what-the-hell happened moments: they are serious and stern and increasingly violent and frightening, and they don't seem likely to go away anytime soon. Maybe that's why this controversy seems so quaint: Because in sports, it is nothing more than a moment.