I imagine most of you – even you writer types – found yourself watching sports this weekend, and we were no exception… however, because I’m a Saints fan, I had no interest in the NFL playoffs, and instead directed as much positive energy towards my beloved Tar Heels playing a tough road game in Tallahassee, Florida.
Lucy wore her UNC onesie-with-culottes, but due to our recent brain farts, we can’t remember which of you gave it to her! Either way, she looked smashing, and screamed on cue every time Tyler got hacked down low. Those of you who followed this particularly harrowing game, you know we one by one point.
Tessa, much later tonight, sat next to me in one of her “I have an important question” poses, and said, basically, that all modern Western sports fall under the same category: the end makes the story. Or, more interestingly, the End makes the Middle and the Beginning, no matter what they had been at the time.
In other words, because we won the game by one point, everything that we did inside the 40 minutes of that game was positively skewed to represent a story in which our winning was inevitable. I thought that was pretty fascinating.
Only one point meant this:
– we’re getting more mature, handling pressure better
– we stopped FSU’s inevitable 2nd half comeback
– we made just the right amount of free throws
– we’re “back on track”
– our hopes for an invitation to March Madness are looking good
– the UNC tradition continues, even having lost our top seven players
Whereas, if FSU’s desperation last-second heave had gone in, the story would look like this:
– we’ve lost maturity, can’t handle being on the road
– we played “their game” instead of “our game”
– David Noel’s two missed free throws tanked us
– our season is slightly coming apart at the seams
– our hopes for postseason play are much murkier
– even UNC can’t handle losing so many players to the NBA
It is, in one of Sean’s favorite expressions, a sport with a “bivalent” storyline, you know, where all the AM sports buffoons say stuff like “It’s W’s and L’s, baby” and “horseshoes and hand grenades,” etc.
But back to Tessa’s point, it is interesting that everything that happened up to the last shot – about 39 minutes and 55 seconds of basketball – did not have any intrinsic definition without the last five seconds factored in. It is decidedly un-Buddhist.
I could make some sort of tangent to the NFL playoff games today, but none of those contests were close enough to warrant emotional ambivalence: the storyline was pretty much set before halftime.
It is curious, as I look at the things in my own life: my own failures that led to success, my sometimes asinine reductivism concerning eras that were quite complicated, yet I still shrug and say “it all sucked.” Especially as we are trying to be “artists,” for lack of a less unbearably twee term, and in many cases, close is not only good enough, but a huge victory.
And yet, when it comes to my Heels, I lose all this perspective. Roy Williams, as Dean Smith before him, has about eight different plays for each possible permutation of end-game situations, making that the final score less arbitrary than it seems. But my mood, still spirited and delightful and sing-songy all evening, is held in place ten feet high by that one gorgeous, tremulous basket.