Column: Trying To Go Beyond The Box Score
Published: Monday, November 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
I have always been intrigued by the power of stories.
It is easy to forget that sports go beyond what happens on the field or the court or the ice—I hope I’ve been somewhat successful in reminding you that there is life outside the lines of a given playing field/court/ice. Sometimes I feel like I’m writing it even to remind myself.
I don’t believe that character is defined by success. For me, character goes beyond the win/loss column. The Heights has provided me a chance to find that out firsthand. Going over to Conte Forum or the Yawkey Center has become a weekly ritual for me, and one that has blessed me with the opportunity to learn some incredible stories, and I’ve tried to retell those the best that I could.
I don’t believe character is defined by statistics, either. I used to, as I grew up with an eerie ability to memorize the latest statistics in the box scores of The Boston Globe. My mom always tells stories about how I’d get into arguments with my older brother (sorry, Chris) about a batter’s batting average, and in the end, always be right. But none of that is relevant to me now. I couldn’t tell you what Nomar Garciaparra batted in 1999. I could, however, tell you all about how I felt when he was traded just minutes before the trade deadline in 2004.
That’s why I’ve never been a big numbers guy in any of my articles. I tried not to fill them with the stats from the box score, but instead, I tried to get across the emotions that players or coaches were feeling when I talked to them, whether it was in the heat of the moment after a game or even sitting in the media suite on a random Wednesday in Conte Forum.
There are always going to be wins, and there are always going to be losses. Those are constants in the life of sports. Sure, it would have been great if the football team had gone to a bowl game all four years we seniors were here. Saturday’s loss was crushing, but mainly because we knew it was the last time we’d be in Alumni cheering on our team as undergrads.
To be honest, I don’t know how many of the wins and losses I’m going to remember down the road when looking back on my time at Boston College. I know I’ll never forget covering the men’s hockey team all the way to Tampa as they won the National Championship last April. But when I think about that championship run, I’m flooded with all the stories that came with it along the way: Jerry York’s smile and gentleness through it all, especially as I saw him with his wife Bobbie, hands clasped, as they were the last to leave the Tampa Bay Times Forum after the win; Tommy Cross’ genuineness and his pure emotions after winning it all; Parker Milner’s patience during his journey from being benched to becoming the MVP of the Frozen Four. I could go on and on about the special anecdotes that I associate with that championship run. I really think that’s what I’ll remember the most.
And that’s why I’ll never forget all the personal stories I learned in every sport and game I covered. Maybe all of this makes me a sucker for the emotions in sports. I think I’m okay with that.
When Athletic Director Brad Bates used the term “emotional rollercoaster” from week to week in a sports season, I couldn’t help but think I was riding front row in that rollercoaster. Maybe that’s why I’ve spent my time at BC writing about sports and not playing them or trying to work in the athletic department.
What stuck out to me in Saturday’s game wasn’t strictly the loss, but the sheer emotions on display after it. As the team headed over to the student section for the Alma Mater, the final one of the year at Alumni Stadium, it was an emotional time for the team as well as the fans. I saw Nick Clancy, who had come down to the media suite in Conte Forum almost every Wednesday since the beginning of the season to talk to us. He poured his heart out to the media each Wednesday, and left everything on the field each Saturday. Originally, Clancy stood in the front row, I’m sure with a ton of emotions flowing through his head. But midway through Alma Mater, he couldn’t take it anymore. He stepped back into the second row, finding his way behind a taller player, and put his head in his hand. Despite his best effort to hold it in, Clancy’s emotions had finally gotten to him.
Yesterday, I asked Frank Spaziani about the decision he made to not go for the win at the end of regulation, instead opting to take the game to overtime. He said he had to take the feelings out of the game, and that’s how he made his decision. Maybe that’s why I’m not a head coach either—if you take the emotions out of the game, all that’s left is the box score. Don’t get me wrong—the wins and losses are important, but for some reason, I prefer to relish the emotions of the game instead.
Right now, the wins and losses are at the forefront of our minds. But 20 years from now, when I look back on my time at BC and writing for The Heights, I’ll remember the incredible people and their stories that I learned along the way the most.
It’s been a privilege to tell those stories. And I know there are so many more to be told, just waiting for someone to put the words on the paper. I hope I’ll be able to keep telling those stories—it just won’t be in this beautiful place we call Chestnut Hill. But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever forget the ones I’ve already told.
Those stories are sacred, just as my time in McElroy 113 and BC as a whole has been. They are not something I’ll soon forget—I’ll always carry them with me.
Parts of our lives must come to an end at some point. But the stories—the stories will last forever.