It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you love the game

It had to end some time.

As a writer, the words just come easier out of a loss. Victories usually provoke a heady advancement of bold adjectives and overwrought accolades. It’s freshness comes out of the realization that it rarely happens that way. Sports is life, only with box scores.

Most seasons are not going to end well, but inside of each new one we’re lost to the possibilities inherent. Hey, if you live long enough, you’re going to lose a hell of a lot more than you ever win. That’s just nature’s course talking.

Literature was born in winter, after all.

Tim Tebow and these Broncos did something I never would have imagined possible. They had me watching and hoping and dreaming. Considering my stance on the league just last summer, that’s some pretty cool stuff.

And he’s got plenty of company when it comes to unfortunate endings.

Of all the Yankee moments in all the towns in all the baseball world, it’s a loss I remember best of all. It was Game 7 in Arizona at the end of their dynastic run back in 2001. Mariano Rivera was proving himself to be human after all, unable to hold a 2-1 ninth inning lead.

It seemed impossible, to lose that World Series. After all of the horror of September 11th, it seemed as if the Yankees were going to give a city in need a few hours of celebration to rest its weary head on. And just like that, the wrong uniforms were jumping up and down and the Yankees great run had officially become a historical footnote.

I had been up to New York a couple of times that fall. I’d gone up once as a volunteer, and then after that again. And in between the crying and working, were the sports conversations. I’d talk up the Mets and Bobby Valentine with a cop from Brooklyn. I’d argue the Yankees rotation with a fireman from Queens. Wins and losses had all the perspective they would ever need inside these moments. Baseball was a fine place to lose ourselves inside a world gone black.

I watched the end of that Game 7 and then I thought about those conversations and it occurred to me, that this ending was just as it had to be. Strangely poetic, completely fitting. It made more sense to me than a parade ever would have.

As a sports fan, you’re going to experience more losses than wins. That’s just how it goes.  But even when the numbers on a scoreboard come out all wrong, it’s better to have had the chance to dream of something more.

Infinitely so.


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