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The Agony and Ecstasy of Sport

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Mar 27, 2006 11:30PM

2006_03_sports_george_mason.jpgA busy weekend of sports once again reminded Chicagoist why we are so drawn to watching and investing ourselves in what some consider just games. We got to experience the whole gammut of emotions along with the participants over the course of just a few days. From incredible highs of achieving things nobody thought possible to the sadness of experiencing careers and lives cut short in pursuit of ones' dreams.

We began the weekend by watching our team, Duke, fall victim to the LSU Tigers as they steamrolled into the Final Four. In addition to seeing our team go out early, our tournament bracket was shot to hell because we had Duke going all the way. Of course, everybody else had their brackets obliterated when all four #1 seeds failed to make the Final Four -- did ANYBODY pick George Mason to make the Final Four? One can only imagine the elation those kids feel, knowing most fans expected them to lose to Michigan St. and instead they reeled off 4 improbable wins against supposedly more powerful teams. How much longer can their run continue? The Final Four this year looks nothing like what people expected, casual fans and experts alike. It's the first time since 1980 that not a single #1 seed make the Final Four, and the first time a mid-major school made it since Larry Bird's Indiana St. team did in '79. So quite a historic tourney this year.

As a result of the madness, only a handful of people in our Chicagoist pool have any teams left in the tourament. C. Dillion is currently in the lead among the 50 entries, however T. Stanton is close behind and had the most possible points left. We'll announce the winner and the prize after the Championship Game.

2006_03_sports_paul_dana.jpgOur perspective on the highs and lows of sport were readjusted over the weekend as we heard that rookie Indy Car racer Paul Dana died on Sunday as a result of injuries sustained during a Saturday practice run leading up to the Toyota Indy 300. Dana, 30, was a former journalist who graduated from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and decided to chase after his dream of racing. He took a risk by turning his back on a more traditional calling by going after a career as a race car driver. What little boy didn't have that dream? Chicagoist certainly dreamed about it as we raced our Hot Wheels anywhere and everywhere we could. Yet, how many of us were brave enough to actually go after it? Dana did, and while it ultimately cost him his life, he died doing what he loved. How many of us could say that were we to keel over on our desk?

ABC's Wide World of Sports is known for its opening narration, that includes, "the thrill of victory … and the agony of defeat … the human drama of athletic competition." This weekend reminded sports fans that those words haven't yet become just another cheesy sports cliche.