Wednesday, February 17, 2010

In Perspective - Impressions from a Super Bowl

By Rodney Hays

I got the chance to watch two great games this weekend.

The first game was on Saturday. It was the University of Oklahoma basketball game against Texas. It was a special day for many reasons. It was special because OU was playing Texas and because the school was honoring one of the all-time greats to ever play basketball in Norman: Wayman Tisdale.

I've already mentioned this in a previous column, but Wayman Tisdale was my idol growing up. When I watched him play basketball, I was inspired because he always made it look so easy.

Isn't it funny how professionals, true professionals, always make what they do look so easy? Wayman had a sweet turn-around jumper. Just seeing that beautiful form as those long arms extended way above his body and the way the ball seemed to float towards the goal before finding the bottom of the net ... so effortless. He was fun to watch.

On Saturday, the school that he had given so much to honored him. Toby Keith sang his song "Cryin for Me," which was a song written about Wayman. It always brings a tear to my eye to hear that song and think about Wayman's great smile.

Wayman's story was like many. The young kid from a poor part of town makes it big at the university and goes on to do great things. He was the underdog for much of his life, but wound up being an inspiration to many.

The Sooners won the game, which was sort of the icing on the cake for a great game. The Sooner Nation came together to celebrate that day.

On Sunday, I watched the other big game of the week. Of course I'm talking about the big game between Chelsea and Arsenal in English Premier League Soccer action.

Ha! I'm just kidding. I was talking about the Big Game on Sunday between the New Orleans Saints and the (Note to Editor: Please put in the name of the team the New Orleans Saints annihilated on Sunday. I know they have a great quarterback, but I can't think of the name right now).

The Super Bowl is always a fun game to watch with friends and family. The Super Bowl has been going on for a long time and is watched by every American, except some guy named Hiram Bonaventure from Canandaigua, New York. Mr. Bonaventure was busy watching his recording of American Idol from Wednesday Night and the Chelsea Arsenal game of the English Premier League.

But for every other American boy and girl, the Super Bowl was amazing, wasn't it? It had everything.

It had intriguing story lines. It had a true underdog. It had a team coming from behind to win the big game. It had trick plays. It had great defense. It had some funny commercials. It had Kim Kardashian and Kendra Wilkinson. It provided inspiration for a whole state.

And that was probably the most amazing thing.

Everyone in the state of Louisiana was watching the game with amazement. After Hurricane Katrina, the town of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana needed some inspiration. Some type of identity besides destruction and desolation. They found it in this year's Saints.

For decades, really since the first season, the Saints have been horrible. It took 20 years for the team just to have a winning record. Before this season, the team only had two postseason wins. But the Saints fans never gave up. They were a passionate group.

People of New Orleans don't need much of an excuse to party -- Mardi Gras, a funeral, two-for-one cans of Campbell's soup at the Piggly Wiggly, whatever.

But this Super Bowl was special.

If you can imagine, it would be like the Texas Rangers going to the World Series after years and years and years and YEARS of utter disappointment. Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but still it was really nice for the Saints' fans.

I'm happy for the Saints. I'm happy for the people of New Orleans and Louisiana. I'm excited about what this win will possibly mean for the attitude of that great southern city.

The Saints provided us all with a sense of it's okay to be the underdogs. The underdogs sometimes -- a lot of the time, actually -- win. They helped Americans remember that sometimes our only limitation is in our minds.

There's a great quote from Henry Ford that says, "Whether you believe you can or you can't, you are right."

I hope that stories like Wayman Tisdale or the 2009 New Orleans Saints inspire others to do great things. I know they have inspired me.

And, in case you're interested, Chelsea beat Arsenal 2-0.

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