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Aaron Leibowitz | The Fan

‘Oh my God!’

Published: Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 09:12

As I watched Chris Davis of Auburn streak down the sideline to defeat Alabama on Saturday, I had a glorious moment of affirmation. In one breathtaking moment, I was reminded of the unrivaled awesomeness of sports.

I had no rooting interest in the game. I had no firsthand understanding of the rivalry’s magnitude. And yet, watching the final play, I found myself overcome with shock and exhilaration and even pure joy.

Davis caught a 56-yard, game-winning field goal try in the back of the end zone with no time left and returned it 109 yards to the opposite end zone. It was the most amazing sports finish I have ever witnessed in real time. It was the climax to one of the greatest games in college football history.

At their core, sports are about the moments that induce explosions of emotion. We can understand that it’s only a game; that it doesn’t really “matter;” that sports are tarnished by social and political conflict. But for a few seconds, those realities can disappear, and sports can suddenly transcend politics and business and everyday life.

After the Auburn-Alabama game, CBS aired the Auburn radio call of the final play. First, the play-by-play man, Rod Bramblett, began describing the situation: “It does not have the legs. Chris Davis takes it in the back of the end zone.” Then he started to chronicle Davis’s path: “He’ll run it out to the 10, 15, 20, 25-30, 35-40, 45-50, 45.” 

Eventually, it became clear that Davis was going to score a touchdown and Auburn was going to win the most important Iron Bowl ever, defeat the No. 1 ranked team in the nation and play for the SEC championship. 

“There goes Davis!” Bramblett wailed.

Then came the greatest moment of all. As Davis was crossing Alabama’s 30-yard line, the color commentator, Stan White, spoke for the first time. He said three words that I will never forget.

“Oh my God!”

In his voice you could hear astonishment and ecstasy and utter disbelief. You could hear that explosion of emotion. If you haven’t heard it yet, search “Auburn radio call 2013 Iron Bowl” on YouTube. I’ve watched it about 30 times, and it keeps getting better.

The end of Saturday’s game belongs to Chris Davis, his teammates, his family and the Auburn community. But it also belongs to us. It belongs to me. Wherever I go, I now carry Davis’s 109-yard return with me, just as I carry David Tyree’s helmet-catch, and Robin Ventura’s grand-slam single, and Johan Santana’s no-hitter, with me. I carry at least a piece of the unbridled joy I felt witnessing those moments. The beauty of sports is not only in the bursts of emotion, but also in the eternal memories.

If you put in your time as a sports fan, you will be rewarded with some of those incredible moments. If you root for the Mets, Knicks, Giants and Rangers, you will have to search long and hard for the great ones. But if you watch and attend enough games — and if you never, ever turn off the TV too soon or leave those games early — once in a while, a moment will take your breath away.

As someone who watches sports incessantly, I sometimes wonder if I’m really making good use of my time. Probably not. But I keep playing that 109-yard return over and over in my head. As long as moments like that are possible, I’ll never stop watching.

Aaron Leibowitz is a senior who is majoring in American studies. He can be reached at Aaron.Leibowitz@tufts.edu.

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