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Sports

Stempak: Patriots’ win adds to conspiracy

| Tuesday, February 7, 2017

This column was going to have a simple premise: “Thank goodness the NFL is finally over so everyone can start focusing on the NBA like they should have been doing three months ago.”

But then Tom Brady did Tom Brady things, except to a greater level than anyone could have imagined.

I have to be honest — Super Bowl LI earned my attention. Not because it was the greatest sporting event I had ever seen, and not even because I had never seen anything like it. Actually, the opposite: the Patriots blew me away because they made the Super Bowl eerily similar to the previous two professional championship games.

Stick with me, and you will be amazed.

Falcons gave up a 31-0 run to close the game, collapsing from a 99.5 percent peak win probability against the Patriots, and solidifying Tommy Brady as the best quarterback of all time.

Do you see it yet? No? Alright, let’s move on to case number two.

On a warm evening in Cleveland, Ohio, on the second of November, the Chicago Cubs completed a three-game comeback in the World Series to clinch the first title for the team since 1908.

One could say that the Indians blew a 3-1 lead.

Case number three: Oakland, California, at Oracle Arena on a Sunday in the middle of June. Kyrie Iriving hit the shot after LeBron James made the block. The details are unimportant, but the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead that evening.

Let me recap this for you.

The Falcons gave up a 31-0 run.

The Cubs came back after being down 3-1.

The Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.

This is where I would put in a couple of those wide-eyed emojis if I could.

Instead, it is time to yell incoherently that there is, in fact, a conspiracy going on here. But what does it mean, and who is behind it?

Somebody, somewhere wants to send a clear message, that those who are in the lead are not as safe as they used to be. It could be Roger Goodell or Adam Silver, the commissioners of the NFL and NBA. A lot of people seem to dislike and distrust Goodell, so my bet is on him. I have no idea who the commissioner of the MLB is, so he probably is a fine dude and I’ll cross him off the list.

I like Silver. He has done a good job preventing work stoppages and promoting league-wide changes to prevent fan-unfriendly things like tanking. But how would Goodell control leagues that are not his own without help from other commissioners?

Maybe the government is involved. There was that election for a high-ranking position this past year where some guy who was thought to be a clear underdog ended up winning in a huge landslide.

We will never know.

Conspiracy talk aside, the one thing that is clear is that sports have been exciting and fun this year, for fans of all types. Talks of super teams and lack of parity have been drowned out by cheering and sobs of unpredictable winners and unlikely losers.

Sports bring people joy because they serve as a door to a simplified world, where random chance is magnified. This year has demonstrated that this remains true, even at the highest level.

The better team can lose, the underdog can overcome terrible unfavorable odds and for a brief moment, both fanbases can suspend reality and become a part of the moment, the moment where the unlikely becomes the truth.

Let us cherish this year of upsets, because the next few years are bound to disappoint in comparison to the craziness of this year. But if you ever need to feel the excitement of the Super Bowl again, look no further than the NBA, where amazing happens on national television at least three times a week.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About R.J. Stempak

R.J. Stempak is a sophomore computer science major who enjoys basketball.

Contact R.J.