The Charlotte News
Wednesday, October 8, 1941
Site Ed. Note: Mr. Hood, it is reported to us, just after completing the epistle on the qualities of experiencing raw milk, as opposed to the pasteurized variety, tragically succumbed to salmonella and passed away.
Last evening, we were listening to our favorite football team play against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame, bells ringing.
The clock had ticked on down, with our team clinging perilously to a five point advantage, but with the Fighting Irish threatening in the shadows of our goalpost. Down the field they came as the last minute and two seconds ticked off. Down the field they kept coming, play after merciless play, heading for the end zone. Finally, the last play of the game appeared imminent with a mere ten seconds to go. The quarterback dropped back to pass and let it go. It came to earth, caught. Fumble. We recover the ball. The game is over.
Wait. Check that. The play is under review.
Yet, we did not know precisely with what definition those shadows were cast upon the stadium field and so remained lost in a state of confusion and near insanity as some five, or was it seven? minutes passed without a word from our favorite announcer on the radio--as we were not advantaged ourselves with the ability to see it on television--imparting to us precisely where the ball lay on that field.
The play preceding this lull had apparently ticked away all time, or had it? It began at the 30-yard line of our team with a pass, one caught, or was it? Then, said our favorite announcer, it was dropped and fumbled and our team recovered the ball, or did they? The play was under review.
But where did the play come to rest, we wondered redundantly, as we paced nervously to and fro here in the Tower, with the platinum air conditioner running apace.
He would not extend to us the simple courtesy of allowing via the airwaves the peculiar knowledge of where the ball had come to rest. Was it at the 25, the 20, the 15, the one? Egads. Where? How? When? How much time remained?
The play was being reviewed. The tension mounted. Finally, he said, "And where are they going to spot the ball?" Precisely. Where? Give us a clue, oh man of mystery on the airwaves. Maybe, between the 15 and 5 at least. Tell us something.
Then, climactically, one of the others said that he thought the ball had come to rest at around the 10. Egads.
Would there be one more play, almost assuredly, with the momentum proceeding thusly, to result in a touchdown? How much time?
The clock showed, he said, 00:00. That's refreshing, but, he added, there might be a question of whether a second should be added back, for the Fighting Irish had immediately grabbed the ball at scrimmage and spiked it to stop the clock. But you can't do that if they had fumbled. A mass of confusion to stop surely all time on the planet.
Well, eventually the interminable wait came to an end as all persons of civilized discontent around the world held their breath in unison. The referee was about to elocute the decision. Here it is: Fumble, first and ten, UNC ball, three seconds to go.
Game over. All go home.
It was exciting. And it was only the second victory for our team over the Fighting Irish in 18 tries, starting in 1949, the first since fall, 1960 during the Kennedy versus Nixon campaign.
We haven't looked up the score on that one and so can't tell you offhand, but Kennedy won the other one by 117,000 votes.
It just goes to show, we suppose, that all things come round eventually, given enough time.
Later last evening, we watched, a little reluctantly at first, a rather swell movie, ostensibly about football, "We Are Marshall". It came out sometime last year and we had put off seeing it because so much of that sort of thing comes out a little overly sentimental for our particular tastes, this being the story of the tragic loss of the Marshall University football team, most of its coaching staff, and several boosters and college personnel as the plane tried to land in Huntington, West Virginia in the late fall of 1970, returning from a game with East Carolina in Greenville.
The movie, while centering around this tragedy, does not dwell unduly on it, or become overly maudlin, as we had supposed it might. Rather, it stresses the attempt of the University and the town of Huntington to cope with that loss, and the rather colorful coach who came to resurrect the program the following spring, doing so with only three players from the previous team, a host of walk-ons, irregulars, sophomores, and, with special permission obtained from the NCAA, the remainder comprised of freshmen, then still normally ineligible for varsity play. And, how that team won its second game the next season but only one more the rest of the season, only seven more during the ensuing three seasons before the new coach was fired.
It is a fine film and we recommend it, for it is not about football per se, or tragedy per se, but something else: creativity in the face of adversity and finding deep within the soul of humanity the spirit to continue out of tragedy.
We remember the incident, but it was sufficiently remote to anything impacting us at the time that we paid little attention. We are glad to have seen this film and by it become more acutely aware of what took place. It is not about winning so much, but more about how the game gets played.
Even if played poorly, everyone, in the end, wins, as long as they understand how the game gets played.
Well, enough for today.
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