Thursday, December 04, 2008

One great thing about sports is that certain plays and games grow to have nicknames which would mean nothing if you didn't know to what they referred, but to sports fans instantly evoke specific plays. For example, "The Catch" could mean anything, but what it means instantly to sports fans if, you're talking football is the throw from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in the 1982 NFL Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys. In baseball, "The Catch" means Willie Mays catching Vic Wertz's fly ball in Game 1 of the 1954 World Series. "The Play" indicates a kickoff return in the 1982 Cal-Stanford game (The Big Game) in which California runs backs a kick for a TD and the win as Stanford's band comes out onto the field thinking the game is over.

What I always worried is who names these plays - sure some name simply develops grass roots style, but when does it become official - when does it become big enough that I can type the play's nickname into wikipedia and have it come up. It must take a while for one name developed in one part of the country to cross over, and people may have two dualing names. For this, as discussed with friend of the blog Utz , I propose a tribunal be formed whose sole purpose is naming of important plays, games, events, and event teams or parts of teams (a la Steel Curtain, Purple People Eaters).

The particular urgency for this move is as follows - in last January's Super Bowl, a spectacular play happened. It is universally acknowledge as a spectacular play, one deserving of memorlialization with a nickname, and the play most remembered from the game. This play is the Eli Manning pass after almost being sacked and then helmet catch by David Tyree. In fact the play is so notable, it even has its own wikipedia entry under "Eli Manning pass to David Tyree." However, fans, press, whoever it takes to makes these kind of decisions have not coalesced around one nickname for the play, even 11 months later. This is simply unacceptable. How will I refer to the play when regaling future generations? In fact, wikipedia, lists 15 different nicknames, ranging from Escape and Capture to The Gasp and the Grasp. This is ridiculous. We can't have so many regionalized and individualized versions. We need one name that everyone in this country can unite upon. Eli and Tyree each apparently have their own favorites, Tyree's "Catch 42" focusing on the catch part, of course, and Eli's "The Great Escape" on the throw.

The first duty of this tribunal would be to unite a nation divided upon one nickname for this great play, and as soon as possible, so we still have time to cement the nickname in our heads before the next Super Bowl. There will be many such future occasions as well I have no doubt - we're not the same small media country we were in the '70s and early '80s before cable took off where one broadcast network could take a nickname national. I'm calling on you, NFL, press, or whoever chooses this sort of thing. Don't make me do it.

1 comment:

Rich said...

Why don't you put someone from the Bureau of Subtitles on the job?

I like how the transcript of Joe Buck's call on the wiki page is the only one that shows absolutely no emotion.