VCU vs. Butler and the magic of Sport

Categories: Sports
Francis Ouimet.jpg
Image via Wiki
Take it from Ouimet (center). Belief is a beautiful thing.
On Saturday afternoon, in the first of two NCAA Men's Championship semifinal contests, the unlikely meeting of 11th seeded VCU and 8th seeded Butler will ensue.  Just how unlikely?

Of the approximately 5.9 million online brackets filled out for ESPN.com's "Tournament Challenge," just two entries predicted what will prove the lowest combination of seedings to ever face-off in the Final Four, while also predicting Saturday's latter game, pitting No. 4 seed Kentucky against No. 3 seed Connecticut.

Today, gentle readers, I offer this "Magic of Sport" theme in what will prove my final column for citypages.com and the City Pages print edition.  After three years and nearly 330 articles that opined and reported on everything from Minnesota Twins baseball to oil wrestling to the national sporting stage to arenas and rinks and ranges and fields beyond -- I will now be moving on from this space.

It is my hope that, over this period of time, I clearly conveyed my belief of the great power, impact and gravity that Sports can have over our respective lives, our emotions, and our communities.  Of course, on myriad occasions, I employed numbers or lists or satire or participatory endeavors to (hopefully) fulfill what I have long embraced as my own tenets toward the craft of writing: to Inform, to Entertain, and to do so in an Intelligent way.

Among the stories of Sporting lore that I hold closest to my heart is that of one Mr. Francis Ouimet, pictured above.  As exceptionally recalled in Mark Frost's 2002 book, The Greatest Game Ever Played (and later retold in the measured, 2005 Disney film of the same name), Ouimet won the 1913 U.S. Open at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass.  The 20-year-old amateur, from a family of modest means, grew up across the street from the blue-blood course and had caddied there for several years.

With 10-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery at his side, Ouimet would go on to fell the world's two greatest players in the tournament, eventually beating Britain's Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in an 18 hole playoff.  And not only did Ouimet shock the world (not just the sporting world) by outlasting Messrs Vardon and Ray, he did so going away, beating the world-renowned players by five and six strokes, respectively.

Did the world, or Boston, or his friends, family or competitors ever really believe that Ouimet

Francis and Eddie.jpg
Image via Wiki
The extraordinary is possible.
‚Äč
would accomplished such a seemingly impossible feat? Surely not.  Perhaps a chosen few believed he could, but like both VCU and Butler this weekend, nary or few a prognosticator truly believed in their hearts that it could happen.

And yet it did.  And again it has.

My friends, while statistics and standings and unique personalities are indeed an important part of our Sporting world, it is my hope that my words in this space aptly made you, believe, from time-to-time, that Sports can be magic.  Sports are a surely a reflection upon our society; and while that reflection may sometimes project what could be deemed as our societal shortcoming, Sports also offer the safety of rules to make the improbable become real.  Life, in my opinion, doesn't offer such rules.  But the improbable is no less possible. 

Sports provide us the confines and the context, the guidelines and the white lines, to mirror the oft-muted belief that the extraordinary is capable, that the impossible is possible, that, sometimes, the scripts of our own lives can be edited, rewritten, or erased by our own hand to pen real magic.

"Expectation" is the hymn of the banal.   "Possibility" is the path of true vision.

And so our NCAA brackets are busted.  So what?  Our collective crossings-off of "Kansas" and "Ohio State" and "Duke" and so forth were not performed in vain.  On occasion, the Sporting Gods just need to remind us that in Sport, as in life, there is nothing that is not possible to achieve.

For each of you that followed my works in this space for the past three years, for each of you that made the time to follow along through one year, one season, one month, one column or one sentence -- I offer you my sincere gratitude.    Whether you may have agreed with me or not is beside the point.  I am simply most thankful for your interest, your time, and your impressions that you were able to share. And that same appreciation is, of course, extended to my longtime employers. 

Know that I am by no means stepping away from the trade, it's just that my words won't be appearing herein after today.

May you all enjoy a beautiful season of baseball, may you find some unexpected magic in your lives, and may you all have ample success in your own endeavors.

As always,

Be Well,

Judd

  

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14 comments
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Drew
Drew

We all know this won't be the last sports related story we read from Judd; which is a good thing.

Thank you Judd, for all the great work you've put into this column over the past few years. It has been entertaining and enjoyable. It will be missed by many.

I wish you the best in the next phase of your career, and look forward to reading whatever you write.

RJ8661
RJ8661

Wow! I will miss your stories. You always made me feel I was right there as I was reading your script. You will be sadly missed by many. Head to Hollywood and win an Oscar for your great talent. RJ

Malone
Malone

The best article yet. You gotta believe. It's when you finally convince yourself you can do it that miracles begin to happen - which not only applies to the field, course, rink, court and pitch - but also applies to our so-called life. Hard work creates opportunity. And if you get the opportunity and rise to the occasion, only good things happen. As Ben Hogan aptly said, 'The harder I work, the luckier I get' - shots begin to fall, putts begin to drop and the winners will raise their arms in triumph.A job well done, my friend. It's been a great pleasure to read 319 of these well-penned articles.

Another Fan
Another Fan

I have a feeling the world of sports journalism has not seen the end of Judd Spicer. Best of luck, Judd!

Dino
Dino

Looking forward to what comes next for you, my good man.

Paul
Paul

Judd, i'll miss you here in city pages but will look forward to your new endeavors.

Chuck Norris
Chuck Norris

What a great run it's been! Thank you for the keen insight, razor-sharp statistics, the laughs and the banter. Your posts will be missed. You've really done some fantastic writing here. Salute!!!!!!

Pittsburgh Norm
Pittsburgh Norm

Judd, You have enhanced the belief of so many of us in the power of words and imagination. Sports was your arena, but life's lessons your game. Thank you and good luck.Pittsburgh Norm

SRoberts
SRoberts

Judd - You made us believers!

Jon
Jon

I'lll miss your insight, creativity, humor and knowledge. You were a great addition - We look forward to reading your work and hearing about your success in your future endeavors.I so enjoyed your column, Judd! Best of luck to you - Great job!!!

Duke
Duke

i feel as though this is a great passing, much like the move of the brooklyn dodgers and new york giants. but although in a different location they still were part of our lives. i hope the same is true with you.

myles
myles

And may you (to use your words) enjoy a beautiful career ahead and success in your endevours.

keefer
keefer

Thank you Judd for all of the great articles and your weekly interuptions to the dreary work day will surely be missed.

MNsportsfan
MNsportsfan

A great run of sports prose these past years. Best to your mighty pen in its new ventures.

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