Friday, December 14, 2012

where have you gone....?

While X cavorted with others in her field last night, I watched a 30 for 30 about Bo Jackson.
A few thoughts to consider about sport and legend. Bo Jackson is only a year older than I am, so his peak of greatness – from Auburn (1982-1985) through about 1991 – corresponds to the strongest portion of my sports following life. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years. Anyway, one of the commentators said during his piece that Jackson was a “what could have been” story, and that we’ll never know how great he could have been in both baseball and football. I understand the question / concern that we never saw the longevity that we’d hoped for back then, and may wish to have film of it now, but I never felt that Jackson’s stamp on the American landscape was ever compromised by his short careers. If anything, the feats of legend are sustained even more by the fact that we think we have precious few when we actually have hundreds. No one of my age will argue that Jackson wasn’t the single greatest athlete of our lifetimes. Do we wish we had more memories? Probably. I guess my only wish is that he could have played longer for the sake of himself. He gave me everything I ever needed to see.
Additionally, long ago we had some debates about Halls of Fame and what defines who is worthy and who isn’t. We seemed to agree that some combination of statistical dominance, championships, superiority at your trade as measured against your peers, and fame, all play a role. It’s simply a matter of determining what combination of each ingredient you find most impressive. We seem to overlook the fame part as we argue whether or not Player X should get in over Player Y.  Prime examples might be Kirk Gibson or Jack Morris. Their fame, and great moments that built that fame, are far more impressive than the actual numbers. It’s not an exclusion of numbers, David Tyree, it’s fame along with very good, if not great numbers. What of Bo Jackson?

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