Sometimes a sporting event becomes so compelling that even someone not particularly invested in the game looses himself in the action. I started off the evening watching the top two college football teams in the nation vie for the best shot at the national championship game at the end of the season. Defense may win championships, but it does not win viewers, so I opted to switch over to the other game I could watch on my limited channels.
I knew I could count on the other game being an offensive romp by one of the teams. I did not expect the nuclear action back and forth from both sides as the competition progressed. As a Texan, I think to some degree I am genetically predisposed to root against teams from Oklahoma; however, Oklahoma State has never reached the status of arch-rival that Oklahoma holds, so when they are doing well and there is the possibility that they are doing well and, with a win against Oklahoma could be in line for the conference and national championships, I looked forward to seeing them roll over a good, but not worthy, Kansas team.
The Kansas team refused to accept the status as "not worthy" and kept the score see-sawing back and forth in a high scoring offensive campaign. In the final minutes of the game each team traded scores about as rapidly as the players could traverse the length of the field. Three end-zone shots by Kansas in the last 20 seconds of the game threatened overtime with each play.
When I started watching the game, I had a couple other projects underway and planned to have the game on in the background as noise, but as the excitement of the game mounted, my work on the other projects began to wane until my attention was totally focused on every snap of the game. Both teams offered such exciting plays, I found myself cheering for whoever had the most recent play.
Usually I find myself firmly on the side of one team or the other, but in this game, I flip-flopped more than the combined field in the Republican presidential primary. Both sides offered something for which to cheer and players with likable stories. I wanted both teams to do well. No matter who had the ball at any given time, I caught myself with teeth clinched, ready stand and cheer for the outstanding plays. As the final drive wound to its end and the victor determined, I was satisfied despite, a little bit, hoping for the game run into overtime.
Despite the extra hour of sleep the night presented, and which I had fully hoped to take advantage of, the energy of the game kept my pulse racing until well after the game was over and by that time I was thoroughly engrossed in the latest podcast of Selected Shorts and John Lithgow reading immaculate descriptions of dogs in the story, "The Dog Walker."
The quiet reading of the stories on the podcast occupied my attention and gave me the chance to begin slowing down. Still, even as I drifted toward sleep, I continued thinking of the deep joy of watching a game well played and I look forward the the next contest that equally enraptures me.