Sports’ greatest moments and achievements are too numerous for the record books.
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I exit with a bonus. In the end, it meant net to nothing — er, I mean next to nothing. It not only produced no championship, but not even an appearance in a tournament final. It wasn’t a match at the absolute highest level of its sport at the time (just shy of the highest level, but still a small step below). And it wasn’t even the defining victory of the main protagonist’s career. But for sheer, delightful, ultra-fun entertainment value, if I on my death-bed 65 years hence am allowed to re-watch just one single sporting event, the odds are I would ask again to watch the Labor Day 1991 U.S. Open tennis match, on Jimmy Connors’ 39th birthday, in which Jimbo won his fourth-round match (he later won in the quarter-finals, too, before being dominated in the semis) in a fifth-set tie-breaker over Aaron Krickstein. It wasn’t just the scrappy tennis. It wasn’t just the long rallies, nor the acrobatic displays, nor the improbably multiple comebacks from the dead. And it wasn’t just Connors’ showmanship — mugging for the camera, showing more humor this time rather than his famous crassness, talking through the camera to the TV audience to say “This is what they come for. This is what they want.” Instead, it was all of these things wrapped together in one supposedly over-the-hill package, coming off of wrist surgery, in his personal play-yard in Flushing Meadow, with the crowd absolutely going bonkers.
Watching it on TV as Jimbo fell behind 2-5 in the final set, I literally found myself reciting Dylan Thomas. “C’mon, Jimbo,” I heard myself saying, semi-aloud. “Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, Jimbo. Rage against the dying of the light.”
Any sports event that can inspire recitations of poetry while it is still occurring is an event not just for the aged but for the ages.
Jimbo did not go gentle. Jimbo raged — and joked, and clowned, and hustled, and raged some more. Raged, in the most likable way rage has ever been presented. This was that unique sort of rage that grows not from hate but from sheer love of the game, a healthy rage, indeed a joyful rage (if such a thing can be). James Scott Connors was not the greatest tennis player ever. But, despite all his faults, he was by far the most fun to watch. And if sports isn’t fun, well, forget it.
But don’t forget this match. Remember it, and marvel.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online