Sunday, October 18, 2015

Hail to the Victors Valiant?

If you are a sports fan and have been around the track a few times you've seen some startling endings to games.  Not sure anyone has seen a more stunning ending than the conclusion of the Michigan State//MIchigan game last evening.

I have a friend whose son went to Michigan. In June he starts talking about the Wolverines and assessing the team's chances. He once flew on New Years day morning, across country for a Rose Bowl game in which Michigan competed, and took the red eye that night back to New York after the game ended.  I figure my friend, Gary, is still sitting like a statue with his mouth open now ten hours after last night's game's end.

Michigan State and Michigan are intense rivals.  Michigan State is undefeated. Coming into last night Michigan had only one loss.  Big game.  100,000 people in the stands. Hail the Victor's Valiant, the Michigan fight song blasting from the band throughout the contest.

With seconds left in the game Michigan held what appeared to be an absolutely insurmountable two point lead.  It was fourth down at around the fifty yard line and Michigan had the ball.  Punt it away and the nine seconds on the clock would evaporate. MSU did not even have a returner ready to catch the punt. They were coming in for the block in a one in a million attempt to block the punt, grab the rebound, and run into the endzone.

No block was necessary.  The nine seconds evaporated alright.  The Michigan punter dropped the snap and then fumbled and bumbled the ball into the hands of an MSU defender who ran into the endzone. End of game. Michigan State wins. Victors Valiant, Not.

Trust me, Believe me. (1) The punter for Michigan did not sleep last night.(2) The punter called his mama last night. (3) My friend Gary is not happy.

For those who wonder about the inherent value of sport vs. the value derived from betting on the game, the peculiar outcome did not affect bettors who, mostly, bet against the spread. Michigan was giving about 6 points. So win by two or lose by 4 you still are a betting loser if you bet on Michigan.  All those people who cheer for MSU and are dancing in the street still, are not doing so because they won a bet--they would have won anyway.  They are dancing because of how much sport can affect the joy in one's life.

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