John Russell's sports column appears Tuesdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs It’s the U.S. men’s hockey team getting crushed 10-3 before their “miracle” in the 1980 Olympic Games. It’s the Broncos losing to the Kansas City Chiefs and Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1997 regular season and then beating those teams in the playoffs. It may be the only second chance we get in life: the rematch.
It’s a second chance for every team and every player. The rematch is a path to redemption, a way to avenge your past and to prove that it is possible to improve your performance.
I guess that’s why the National Football League scheduled two games against division opponents. The rematch is the perfect way to build those long-lasting rivalries that have become the backbone for many professional and collegiate sports teams. The rematch helped turn athletes like Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier into legends and their time in the ring into the fiber that holds sports together.
The cool thing about the rematch is it gives fans of losing teams the fuel they need to make it through a season and the drive they need to hold on to their faith in the team.
Sure, the Oakland Raiders have owned the Denver Broncos at home recently, but when the Broncos rolled over the black and silver last weekend, the faithful held their heads high thanks to the power of the rematch.
It doesn’t matter if the athletes are professionals, if they are playing for a college team or if they still are in high school. Every athlete and fan knows that there always will be another chance, another opportunity. Sure, it might be a year from now, but that makes the meeting that much sweeter.
But the rematch is about a lot more than a second chance. It demands that the athletes live by a code on the playing fields and courts. It requires winners to show respect to the athletes of the other team, and it restrains some teams' excitement when running the score at the end of the game might seem like a good idea.
It controls our actions because most athletes understand what goes around just as easily could come around when you face that other team down the road.
That’s why the rematch is such an ingrained part of sports.
Without the rematch, we would not have rivalries like the Broncos and Raiders or the Celtics and Lakers. When the University of Colorado left the Big 12, I was depressed because I realized there would be no more Husker rematches for this Buffs fan.
Without the rematch, a team and its fans never might know when things were improving, and without the rematch, teams could float through the sports world with little concern for what their actions on the field really mean.
I guess that’s why the rematch is one of the greatest things about sports.
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com