Monday, January 23, 2012

Lots of Big Hits Needed a Script Doctor

If some focus group of groundlings had convinced Shakespeare the play needed a happy ending, "King Lear" would still have been a memorable drama. But it wouldn't be "King Lear."

If Bruce Springsteen gave a concert without multiple encores, it'd still be a great concert. But the audience would leave the building feeling more than a bit let down.

That's sort of how I feel about yesterday's AFC and NFC championship games. As football art goes, they offered their audiences all the catharsis one could want -- until their final scenes.

The Patriots beat the Ravens on a missed short field goal. The Giants beat the 49ers when they recovered a fumbled punt return. Those are the most and second-most anticlimactic ways thrilling football games CAN end. And I think only the most devout partisan fans of the two winners aren't at least a little downcast about the conclusions of two episodes of magnificently tense and melodramatic football, the very best the sport has to offer as a spectator experience.

Big plays of course, aren't necessarily good plays. The word big is value-neutral. But one (this one anyway) likes to see a close game determined by an action of the winners, not by a miscue on the part of the losers. It lessens the contest's value, including its historical value.

Super Bowl XXV was an outstanding game. But a game whose defining moment was a field goal missed is always going to be less celebrated in pro football lore and legend than a game defined by a field goal made -- such as Super Bowl XXXVI.

It's not that the endings of the two games are any aspersion on the winning teams. By definition, one-play games are games in which both teams turned in an effort worthy of a victory. But as a matter of aesthetics and out of pure human sympathy, I want a one-play game decided by a play that makes me cheer, not wince.


At 9:07 PM, Anonymous Dave said...


See: Tebow, Pittsbugh game, 2012

Same one play fluke but a lot more interesting and memorable


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