Webster’s dictionary and “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” both define it as “the abandonment of a duty or post.” Why is that pertinent to the discussion today? Because I have had enough of it. In the sports context.
Now I know whawt you’re thinking. “Oh John Song, are you just gonna stick the word ‘sports’ in front of desertion and write another article about some banana split term so you can vent your frustrations and internal strife?”
Heck no! Who do you think I am? Do I look as hackneyed as the producers of “The Flavor of Love with Flavor Flav” (who started planning for “The Flavor of Love 2” within seconds of the end of the first show)?
No, my friends, what I’m going to do is stick the phrase “in the sports context” after desertion and then write another article about some banana split phrase so I can vent my frustrations and internal strife.
In the sports context, desertion is one of the most egregious things a sports fan can do. What is sports desertion, you ask? It’s leaving a game, for no good reason other than saying “oh, I think I have a lot of work, I should go home” BEFORE the game is over! It makes no sense, gives the opposing team a sense of accomplishment, and delivers a swift kick in the gut to your team.
Picture this: your football team is down 14-6 with just 1:35 left to go in the game. You have the ball at midfield, no timeouts left. Your quarterback barely converts a third and ten to keep the drive going and the clock is still running. Two plays later, he scrambles 23 yards downfield for another first down. Short passes, incompletions, and quarterback scrambles swim around your head for a nerve-wracking couple of minutes before — BOOM — YOUR QUARTERBACK SNEAKS INTO THE ENDZONE!
As you raise your hands in jubilation, screaming a string of unintelligible expletives mixed with “DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES!?!?!???!?”, you scan the field and….
Half the crowd is leaving!
Meanwhile, a few remaining people stare at you like you just defenestrated their cat and somebody near you tells you to “chill the eff out bro, it’s just a game.” You know what, “bro,” besides being a nightmare scenario comparable to the time that I was on a date with Jessica Alba (in my dream) and then found out that I was actually being cast for “Flavor of Love 3,” the situation I just described for you ACTUALLY HAPPENED!
If that story sounded unfamiliar to all you Benedict Arnolds who left the game early, it’s because it was the Yale-Cornell game a couple weeks ago — a game that went right down to the wire and was decided by a two-point conversion with quadruple zeros left on the clock. And not to go all DirecTV commercial on you, but … you missed it because you were in line for the bus back to campus?!?!?!?!?!
As captain Paul Rice said, “I was ready for OT … I think the whole sideline was ready for OT.” You know who wasn’t ready for OT? Half of the student fans who peaced out so they could get in line for the buses an extra minute early, doing nothing productive in the meantime besides discussing the latest reruns of “The Flavor of Love.”
Now, before you get the wrong impression, let me just clarify and say that I don’t have any problem with “The Flavor of Love.” What I do have a problem with is people leaving the game at a time when their team needed them most. With half the stadium gone, it was almost inevitable that Yale would fail the two-point conversion and lose the game. What should’ve happened was Yale converting, forcing overtime, and building momentum as fans screaming themselves hoarse. Meanwhile, the kid next to me blurts out “down with people who tell other people to chill the eff out — this is so much more than a game, bro!”
Sure, I might be attributing a lot to our collective influence upon the space-time continuum of sports (that’s for another column), but I happen to believe that it’s my narcissistic right as a diehard sports fan to think my team’s actions can be influenced if I get a little louder, be a little crazier, and scare the living buhjeezus out of the opposing team by pretending to defenestrate their cat.
Thus, desertion, in the sports context, absolutely makes ZERO SENSE. Do you really need those extra two minutes of head start on the crowd? In the grand scheme of the day (a day that started with you going to the various tailgates at 10 to drink “nonalcoholic” diet coke and orange juice), is an extra 10 minutes of time saved really going to accomplish that much? Is it worth the demoralizing influence that you’re going to have on your team as they make a miraculous comeback drive, only to realize that you’re gone? NO, NO, and NO!
You see, this notion of desertion, in a sports context, was reinforced to me at an early age. As a young lad growing up in Canada, I was a rabid Toronto Raptors fan. To this day, my username for most online accounts is still nikemanVC, with VC being the initials for Vince Carter, the greatest basketball player Toronto ever had. My family was struggling financially at the time and after saving up for a couple months, we had the opportunity to attend one game — a game in which the Raptors were absolutely getting torched for the first three quarters. The details are fuzzy, but in my mind, I’m convinced that Toronto was down by 40 points at the beginning of the fourth quarter. I was disgusted with their performance, so I left the game, trying to beat out the rush of fans. When I returned home, I realized that Vince Carter (my hero at the time) had put on an absolute shooting display, finishing the game with a three-pointer at the buzzer for the win.
I was devastated. My 12-year-old self literally burst into tears because I had the opportunity to be there and help those other faithful fans will my hero to victory.
From that day on, I vowed that outside of death in the family or a “Flavor of Love” marathon, if I had made the investment to attend a game, I would stay until the end. Trust me, it’s better this way. And I’m saving you years of psychiatrist bills.
So please, bro, will you stay ’til the end of the game?
John Song is a junior in Berkeley College.