Tension between life and the lines

Michael O’Donnell, Staff Writer

By Michael O’Donnell

Stop and ask yourself—why do I watch sports? Why does one devote so much time watching ESPN or Fox Sports Net Spending 10 hours in front of the TV watching pre-game shows, games, and then the post game shows? Why does one invest so much energy into watching one team during a season, following their every move like it was their last?

The answer is—passion, excitement, tension, sadness, euphoria and just plain madness. We all watch sports because we are addicted to the human element of what sport brings to our lives: the sights of playing under the lights, the screaming fans, the smell of the jerseys, the camaraderie amongst teammates and the tension of pulling out a close win. That is what sports is all about. It is being a part of something that is greater than the individual. That is why people play and enjoy sports. But, what happens when the human element of sports takes hold and possibly affects the outcome of the game?

The most recent case of this happening was on Sept. 16, during a college football game in which a blown call was made on an onside kick. The missed call led to Oregon’s winning touchdown in the final minute. On Sept. 17, Coach Bob Stoops of Oklahoma spoke candidly with reporters after Saturday night’s 34-33 loss in Eugene, Ore.

The same day Coach Stoops spoke out on the game, Gordon Riese—the PAC Ten conference official who blew the call- was trying to recover from a night of terror, after receiving a siege of threatening calls including a death threat on his home answering machine.

“I’m struggling with it. I feel so bad I missed that call, it’s driving me crazy,” Riese told ESPN for an article that appeared on their Web site. “I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, my blood pressure is skyrocketing.”

The NCAA announced on Sept. 20 that Riese officially asked for a leave of absence, not even one week after the blown call at Autzen Stadium at the University of Oregon.

Now, I love sports—don’t get me wrong. I live and die for my teams. I spend a good 30 to 40 hours a week following sports. I love sports so much so that I am planning on making my livelihood writing about sports. If there was a blown call made, sure, I would be upset if it was my team. However, the minute someone calls an individual’s house, whether it be a coach, player, official, fan, mascot or even someone’s mother—it does not matter who it is—you do not do it!

Sports are human-run entities. It is like life, a roller coaster of emotions. It has its ups and it has its downs. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they do not. The fact is, as in life, no one knows what is going to happen in the end of the game. That is exactly what makes sports so utterly amazing! On any one given day the underdog can beat the champion, a team can overcome the odds, coming back to win or the unexpected can take place on the field of play.

When it comes to sports, sometimes it is not how you win, but how you lose, which shows the true sign of maturity, and even the most devoted fan will tell you—it is just a game.

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