For over a month I have been wrestling with the phrase, “the greatest moment in sports.”
If you will recall, those words were thrown around with great glee by pundits near and far to describe Tiger Woods winning the Masters in April, and many pages were filled with glowing descriptions of how his accomplishment exceeded all the accomplishments that had come before. Not only Mr. Woods’ accomplishments, but apparently everybody else’s as well.
That’s the part the I have been wrestling with since then because that is what it means when we say it was the greatest moment. Nothing before it was as good, and nothing afterwards will reach the standard set this day. It’s a pretty hefty weight to put on a moment, especially a moment as fleeting as winning a golf tournament.
Personally, I was thrilled to see the man win. It was a great moment. I, along with a nation of golf fans and sports enthusiasts, was thrilled to see Tiger roar and throw is fists up in victory once again. He is the best golfer I have seen play the game, and I suspect he will remain at the top of the list during my lifetime.
His winning marked the end of an amazing personal journey and created a comeback story to rival the ages, but it is only one of the great moments that happened that week, and it is now at the bottom of a long list of great moments that occurred since.
For the first time in 145 years a horse crossed the finish line of the Kentucky Derby first but didn’t win the race.
A New York high school sophomore, Shannon Becker, threw a “perfect” perfect game, meaning she struck out all 21 batters she faced, for the first time in the history of the state. It was her second perfect game in a row, although she only struck out 20 batters in the first game.
Nicole Newman, another softball pitcher, a senior from Drake University set an NCAA record with her fifth perfect game of the season, breaking a tie with four other women who had previously thrown four perfect games in a single season. Let that sink in for a second, there were five people tied at four perfect games.
From our own neck of the woods, Dawson County’s own Frankie Muldoon finished third overall in her final high school race after losing her shoes on the first lap. That’s seven laps of that weirdly painful, tacky track gravel grinding into her feet, yet she was neck-in-neck for the lead on the final lap.
Every day, since that Sunday, athletes across the nation have pounded pavement, hit the gym, studied film deep into the night and pushed themselves until they have nothing left to give. In most cases, the driving force behind it all is something the rest can’t see and wouldn’t understand if we could, but it pushes them become the absolute best that they can be. In and of itself, that is a great moment.
Sports are designed to make us want to be better, to strive for more not just for ourselves, but for our teammates, for our communities, for our cities and, at the highest levels, for our country. Sports encourage us to give all we can for those around us, on the field and off.
The greatest moment in sports, in my opinion, is every moment that human beings push themselves to the breaking point, every moment that tests a person mettle and skill and every moment when that person falls short of the task but picks themselves back up, knocks off the blood and the dirt and trots back on the field to do it again.
Just like Tiger Woods.