Staff Editorial 2/16 Sports championships prove “Dream Big” mantra pays off

Buzzer beaters, last second touchdowns, 9th-inning home runs, epic comebacks, thrillers. We just experienced one of the most shocking years in sports history. Throughout the past year, we have felt the rush of adrenaline that comes with down-to-the-wire sports more than usual. Almost every major sports championship was a brutal battle to the finish, and history was made more than once.

Let’s start with March Madness, a tournament that proved to everyone why anything can happen in March. Villanova and North Carolina went head to head, the Wildcats looking for their first championship in 31 years, and the Tar Heels wanting to add onto their legacy as an elite program.

Less than five seconds left. The Tar Heel fans were out of their seats after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit an off balanced three to tie the game, but Villanova retaliated. Kris Jenkins sat them back down with a buzzer beater from behind the arc. The Wildcats rushed the court as streamers surrounded them and, back home, their suburban Philadelphia campus lost its mind.

Fast forward two months. NBA Finals. Game 4. The Cleveland Cavaliers are down 3 games to 1 against The Golden State Warriors. Fast forward once more to game seven. 89-89 with a minute left. Kyrie Irving on Steph Curry. The shot clock ticking down under five seconds, Irving leaping up and firing off a three, the ball falling through the net after dangling in the air. Lebron James holding his hands up in triumph. The fans at the watching parties in Cleveland erupted, ecstatic to see their team defy the odds and come back.

Cleveland, a city plagued by an athletic curse that seeped and oozed through its veins, hadn’t felt the glory of a championship in 52 years. Those 52 years only made the win in game seven that much sweeter.

Another 3-1 deficit was overcome a four months later, this time in The Windy City. Cubs and Indians. Top of the tenth inning, game seven. Cub’s third baseman Ben Zobrist walked up to the plate as the game stood still at 6-6, hunting for a hit that could catapult the Cubs to their first World Series win in 108 years. With everyone in Wrigley Field on their feet, Zobrist ripped a go-ahead double down the third base line. The Cubs had done the impossible.

College Football. Alabama vs Clemson. Rematch. Plotted against college football’s most prolific program, the Clemson Tigers executed perfectly behind Deshaun Watson. With one second left, Watson found receiver Hunter Renfrow in the endzone to accomplish what few believed was possible – defeating the Alabama football monster.

Two words. Tom Brady. Despite being the Alabama equivalent of the NFL, the Pats dug deeper than ever in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI. Down 21-3 at the half, Pats fans didn’t think the game could get much worse. But then it became 28-3 in the third quarter. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around it looked like all hope was lost. Then Julian Edelman made “The Catch,” somehow coming down with the football after it was batted in the air and bounced off a shoe.

New England went on to score 31 unanswered points in one quarter, overcoming a 25 point deficit to put a fifth ring on Brady’s thumb. Quick facts: 25 points is the largest deficit ever overcome in a Super Bowl, this was the first Super Bowl to ever go into overtime, Tom Brady’s completed 466 yards is a Super Bowl record, James White’s 14 receptions and 20 points is a record, Super Bowl LI was the Pats ninth Super Bowl appearance, a record, and Tom Brady is now the only player with four Super Bowl MVPs and the only quarterback with five Super Bowl wins.

One word. G.O.A.T.

Each and every one of these heart-pounding games was because of a dream, because of a miracle. For the athletes involved, they saw their dream of making a game winning shot or bringing a championship home to their city come true. As high school students, we see “Dream Big” and “Reach for the Stars” on posters tacked to the wall of our classrooms. These words are accompanied with a little boy staring longingly at a basketball hoop or a baseball diamond. We smirk and think “How cheesy can these teachers be? What are we in, first grade?”

We are told to dream big – maybe because of the posters on our teacher’s walls, or maybe because we are encouraged to do so at a very young age. When we look at the posters, however, telling us that “You’ll Always Miss 100% of the Shots You Don’t Take,” we dismiss them, because after all, miracles don’t really happen, especially in sports. Right?

“Dream Big” and “Reach for the Stars” may be more powerful than they seem. Look back at this year in sports and you’ll see – don’t doubt the dreams. Don’t doubt the miracles.