What’s your favorite sports moment?
Think about it for a minute, and play it back in your head. Think you found it?
Good. Firmly grasp it; hold on to it with a vice grip. Now, I want you to think about what made that moment so surreal.
If you’re a basketball fan, maybe you’re like my fellow sports writer and colleague Graham Marsh and revel in Ray Allen’s iconic, game-tying three-pointer for the Heat in Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals.
If you long for the College World Series in the dog days of summer like sports writer Tyler Nettuno, maybe Gators left fielder Austin Langworthy’s walk-off home run to send Florida to Omaha leaves you welled up with tears of joy.
And if you, the reader, are like UEFA Champions League fan and Alligator employee Bryan Matamoros, maybe Barcelona’s historic 6-5 comeback in the second leg of the round of 16 against PSG is your most-watched video on YouTube.
But what made those moments so cemented in your mind and everlasting? Why do you remember the score better than your significant other’s birthday?
It’s possible you’ve been lucky enough to witness your favorite team win it all, and that’s understandable. Or it’s plausible an outside, personal element made that moment so poignant for you. And that’s special.
But I’m a Jets, Mets and Knicks fan. (Is that safe to say on here?) We don’t experience what you would call “good times” too often. Heck, the most recent championship of the teams I just mentioned happened in 1986.
But I still love sports, and I still have my favorite moments. And it’s not because my sub-par teams did anything worth writing home about. They usually don’t.
No, the scenes that play back in my head when I’m daydreaming during a college lecture, in a heated discussion at the Alligator sports desk or when I lie my head on the pillow at night are because of one thing: the sports fan.
That’s right, I miss them all. The hecklers, the kids in Greek life who can’t make it past halftime and the opposing fans. From my best friend to the last person I’d share a Swamp lemonade with under the sweltering Gainesville sun. Pride of the sunshine, right?
Because every cheer is only as good as the people behind it. Every fight song is as only passionate as the crazed fanatics packed into the bleachers. Every game night at the bar is only as powerful as the love you share for those around you (especially if your teams don’t win all that much).
So when someone asks what my favorite sports moment is, it’s always a touchdown, home run, three-pointer or goal followed by a high five or a hug. When amazing plays happen, my eyes don’t stay glued to the field or court. My friends and I immediately turn to each other to celebrate.
Because what I’m really missing out on is you, the sports fan. What we’re really missing out on is each other.
And, for my Spongebob fans out there, no amount of mermaid magic could replicate that.
So, to the sports fan, I raise a McUltra and a pair of tongs to you. I miss you dearly, and every moment of my sports life - both good and bad - has been enhanced greatly by you.
COVID-19 has taken a lot from us, but think about what we’ll always have: the memories of our favorite sports moments with the people we love.
It’s been a long time since we’ve been in a stadium together. But I can’t wait until the day we can storm through those gates and paint the bleachers bright with our favorite colors again.
I’ll see you when I see you.