Have we already forgotten the 2002 World Cup win over Mexico? More significant, Less Exciting.
Let me first say that I watched every one of the 90 minutes plus of the US-Algeria soccer game yesterday. I felt like the US was going to blow scoring chance after scoring chance, and cost themselves a shot at the knockout round. But, I will admit the game was just entertaining enough to keep my attention and then the last 15 minutes were actually pretty exciting. Then the US FINALLY gets a goal in, sends itself into the second round, sends Slovenia home and we actually got to hear Bob Ley get excited about something. I was truly happy the US won and I can only imagine the celebrations that broke out across the country in bars.
But as the day went on, I became a little confused by the reaction of some (cough…cough…Matt Jones) about the game. The game itself was VERY exciting, and it obviously kept the US alive in the tournament. But the elevation of the win into “all-time great US moments” kinda surprises me. Pardon the Interruption asked the question “Is this the greatest win in US soccer history?” Maybe others can help me on this, but didn’t we make the Round of 16 in 2002, and then WIN A GAME and make the quarterfinals? How is that win not more significant than the one yesterday? What am I missing? Wouldn’t a win against Ghana Saturday be more exciting for a US soccer fan because it means we are going to the quarterfinals?
It also adds another example of something that bugs me about sports media, and to an extent sports fan, in the current sports atmosphere. I think we all want to be a part of the special moments in sports, so we elevate the moments we see into “all-time” great status. There is nothing more that ESPN wants than to elevate Kobe Bryant into the Michael Jordan level of greatness. Ummmm, not quite yet there Kobe. People have already dubbed Steven Strasburg the “best pitcher in baseball” after 4 starts. HE’S PITCHED 4 TIMES!!!! Those 4 times have been excellent, but freaking Fernando Valenzuela won the Cy Young in his rookie year, and I wouldn’t say he turned out to be an all-time great. How about Strasburg finishes a season or two before we put him in Cooperstown. The examples could go on and on from the past decade. The Giants-Patriots Super Bowl was the greatest game ever…..until the Steelers-Cardinals game the next season. Ronald Reagan dies, and suddenly he is the greatest modern president. John Wooden dies, he becomes the greatest human being that ever lived.
The US-Algeria game is comparable to a NCAA basketball conference final buzzer beater. Incredibly exciting, keeping one teams hope alive for a championship, completely memorable, but nowhere near as SIGNIFICANT as the NCAA Tournament games themselves. That’s why Ty Rogers buzzer-beater will always be remembered over Demarcus Cousins buzzer beater in the SEC Tournament.
Point being, and this is just a pet peeve of mine, but can we celebrate the exciting games in sports without also needed to put them on Rushmore? Can we find some perspective in our sports watching and analysis? And finally, can we all admit that no matter what happens in a Final Four game, nothing will surpass Duke-Kentucky 1992?