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Old 02-17-2011, 02:33 PM
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Default Topic #11, All Players - If You Could Be At Any Event

This is the last topic. The top three scorers will advance to the finals.

This thread is to be used by those in the Sports Debater's League. Any other posts in here will be flagged for spam and deleted. You have four days from the time this is posted to post (as in the time this is posted on Monday, which is approximately when the new topic will go up. Note that I mean 96 hours after MY initial post, not the lead off debater.) your arguments, rebuttals and anything else you want. Best overall debater in that time period receives 10 points, second receives 9, third receives 8, all others receive 7.

Hitting Lead-Off in this debate is General Disarray. He has 24 hours to reply and if he doesn't then it's open season.

Again: 4 days, best overall poster gets first place points.

Topic: If you could be at any sporting event in history, which would it be and why? This is more of a state your own case rather than tear down the others but you can if you'd like.

Scores will be posted as soon as the three judges give their scores.

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Old 02-18-2011, 06:18 PM
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If I could be at any sporting event in history, God knows there are enough options to choose from. As an avid sports fan, especially of NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB, as well as golf, tennis, and countless others, I could think of any of a number of sporting events which I would love to be able to witness on a firsthand basis. Whether it be past sporting occurrences which I would love to be able to go back in time to appreciate, or current activities which are relevant at the moment, or even anticipation of future sporting events which would hold appeal for me, there are plenty of options, and I imagine I will likely agree with all of my fellow posters (all five of us ) when they state their choices (unless someone selects a soccer event as their choice, then I would likely respectfully decline).

My knee jerk reaction was to look to the future, in anticipation of the glorious day when my beloved Boston Bruins finally earn the honor of hoisting Lord Stanley's Cup as the elite of the NHL for the particular season. But as awesome as that will be (hopefully later this year ), in the end I selected something else. Something that as a rabid Canadian sports fan, stands head and shoulders above all the rest. Something that would require me to turn the hands of time back 38 years, to the fall of 1972. I am referring to the Summit Series, the head to head showdown between Canada and the Soviet Union for hockey supremacy, a sporting event which transcends the world of sports and enters into the realm of something far more significant. In a perfect world, I would love to have been able to attend all eight of these games and to witness first hand one of the most significant occurrences in Canadian sports history, an event still held in the highest regard by sports enthusiasts of all ages here in the Great White North. If I could only choose one game, clearly I would select the eighth and final one, but because this is all hypothetical, I would choose to be present for the entire series.

Originally dubbed the Friendship Series, this event was anything but. It involved a showdown between Canada who, certainly back in this era, was the dominant country in hockey and the predominant contributor to the rosters of the NHL, versus the Soviet Union. At this point in history, the Olympic Games was restricted to amateur athletes only (as it should be today, but I digress). As such, because most of Canada's premiere hockey players were professional athletes playing at the NHL level, they were ineligible for the Olympics or for the IIHF World Championships, and Canada as such stopped sending athletes to participate in these events in 1969.

On the other side of the coin, we had the Soviet Union, a nation who used a little creative license in determining who were professionals versus who were amateurs. Most of the players on this Soviet team were actually full time hockey players playing at the elite level in their country. They maintained amateur status by having many of their players loosely affiliated with the Soviet Red Army. As such, they had Olympic experience, despite in actuality not really being amateurs.

Remember that this was back in the days of the Cold War. These teams, these fans, these countries, there was real animosity amongst them, as well as a high degree of unfamiliarity. Not like today, when Crosby and Malkin can be teammates for most of the season, take a two week hiatus to become rivals, only to reunite again in Pittsburgh to continue their quest for the Stanley Cup. These guys did not know each other. They did not like each other. The stakes were high, nationalism was running rampant, and the eyes of the world were truly on the event in the ultimate game of us versus them.

Canada was expected to dominate the tournament. The premiere players of the NHL versus a bunch of unknown amateurs. Little did we all know how things were about to unfold. Little did we know that the way the game of hockey was played, how people trained, and the requirement of a year round commitment, was about to evolve.

Game One was in Montreal on 09/02/72. Canada was expected to dominate, but they did not. In fact, they lost 7-3 on home ice. They recovered in Game Two in Toronto on 09/04/72, prevailing 4-1 to tie the series. Game Three, held in Winnipeg, ended in a 4-4 tie, keeping the series deadlocked. Game Four was in Vancouver, the last game in Canada before heading to hostile territory. Canada was awful in this game, losing 5-3 to the Soviets, causing the Canadian fans to boo the team off the ice, prompting the famous Phil Esposito speech to the fans, imploring them for their patience, their support, and their respect.

Fast forward to 09/22/72, to the Luzhniki Ice Palace in Moscow, in the midst of the Cold War, facing the hated Communists down two games to one, with a tie as well. A daunting task to overcome.

However, the task became even more onerous when Canada blew a 4-1 lead in Game Five to lose 5-4, falling behind even further in the series. Now, to win the series, they would have to win three consecutive games, against the Soviets. In Moscow. In the early 1970's. With the hopes of the entire country squarely on their shoulders. Against a physically more fit team with momentum.

Cue the drama, and welcome to the big times Mr. Paul Henderson. On 09/24/72, Henderson scored the winning goal to give Canada a 3-2 win, followed by a 4-3 triumph on 09/26/72, again punctuated by a game winning goal from Henderson. Series is now tied, three wins apiece, with one game left. Canada must win this game to win the series. A Soviet win gives them the victory. Even a tie would give the Moscovites the victory based upon goal differential. For Canada, it's truly put up or shut up time.

On 09/28/72, the series would be concluded. The game was tied 2-2 after the first period, but the Soviets took a 5-3 edge after two. The uphill battle has grown much steeper. However Canada does manage to tie it up in the third period, and then, once again, enter Paul Henderson. With 34 seconds remaining in the third period, he scores "the goal heard around the world," banging in a rebound from Esposito's shot to take the lead, which Canada would protect to win the series 4-3-1. Despite overwhelming odds and incredible pressure, Canada did prevail in the Summit Series, marking a momentous occasion in Canadian sports history, and in Canadian history in general.

To have been present for this series would have to have been magical. To be at the Luzhniki Ice Palace to see a relative unknown in Paul Henderson, when compared to such guys as Esposito, Dryden, and countless others, become a Canadian icon in leading his Canadian teammates to one of the most significant and dramatic victories of all time, I would have loved to have been there. To see such a triumph of wills, both in terms of hockey as well as nationalistic pride, it would have been epic. To see a group of Canadian athletes enter the Soviet Union in the midst of the Cold War, and overcome a 3-1-1 deficit in games, and a 5-3 deficit in goals in the deciding game, in a hostile environment, while Canadians and the world held their collective breaths, this would be the event I would choose to have been able to attend, if a time machine could somehow magically transport me back there. All due respect to my beloved Bruins, but this was something something special. Something legendary. Nearly 40 years later, it is still discussed, still cherished, still respected. If I could have been at any event, I would choose the Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1972.
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Old 02-18-2011, 11:08 PM
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Like with any of these subjects, there is a myriad of factors that determine my decision. Picking just one sporting event is no different. There have been so many surprising, game-changing, and even life-altering events that have occurred within the world of sports. For me, I used a few simple criteria to ultimately determine that event.

First, I narrowed things down to an event involving one of my favorite sports teams. With no disrespect meant to other cities and their teams, Ive been born and raised in Pittsburgh, and my heart will always lie there as well. With the Steelers, Penguins, and even the Pirates, there's no shortage of moments that are memorable that I could look back on and say I truly would have enjoyed experiencing live. Even the Steelers Super Bowl loss this month would have been an amazing experience.(Provided I got a seat) And to be honest, the Super Bowl would have held little interest to me had it been the Jets vs the Packers, rather then my Steelers losing in the game. So that one event certainly needed to be one that took place involving Pittsburgh.

Second, the moment haad to be significant. When i say significant, i mean that it helped shape the landscape of Pittsburgh sports. For example, Ill never forget May 4th and 5th, 2000, when the Pittsburgh Penguins took on the Philadelphia Flyers in a significant game. It was game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifnals, the longest in NHL history. I vividly remember staying up until 3 am through 5 overtimes to watch this heated rivalry unfold in the playoffs. And though the Penguins lost the game and ultimately the series, it was worth staying up for due to its significance and the Penguins longstanding rivalry with the Flyers. On the converse, I recall going to sleep not feeling well in Summer of 1997 when Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon were in the middle of pitching a no-hitter for the Pirates, the last one in Pittsburgh. And although Im equally a Pirates fan as I am a Penguins fan, the game was less important and significant to me because the Pirates were in the middle of their 6th losing season, and had a payroll of 9 million. But because the Penguins were a good team and the Pirates were and are awful, the Penguins game sticks out much more substantially in my memory. So any event Id want to go back in history and witness as well would have to be meaningful as well.

Third, the event would have to be a once in a lifetime type deal. For example, Ill never forget being a nine year old in 1991 staying the night at a neighbors house over Christmas break, and witnessing Mario Lemiuex become the first person in NHL history score 5 goals 5 different ways. He scored a shorthanded goal, a five-on-five goal, a power play goal, a penalty shot goal, and an empty net goal. Lemiuex was the first, and is the last player in NHL history to have done so. My memory of that night, despite being 9, is so vivid that I remmeber the size of the TV and the layout of my friends room. I couldn't tell you what I had for breakfast today, but the event was so spectacular because it truly was a once-in a lifetime occurence that I remember virtually every detail about it, including the food we had that night.(KFC ) So another criteria for an event Id like to go see would be something that would be one that had the prospect of never happening again.

Finally, the event would need to be something that occurred outside of my lifetime. Ive been fortunate as a Pittsburgh sports fan to see the Steelers in 4 Super Bowls, winning 2. Ive been fortunate to see the Penguins skate 4 times in the Stanley Cup Final, winning 3. Ive also had the good fortune of being present live for some of these events, whether it be games on the way to a title, or games in the championship series in the case of the Penguins. But even the greatest of events in Pittsburgh have been ones Ive witnessed in one way or another, so in order for it to reach the highest level of significance, it would have to be something that took place before I was born.

There are still many things that I could discuss in terms of significance in Pittsburgh sports history that occurred before I was born. But only one event was truly so spectacular, monumental, and truly a once in a lifetime experience that occurred before my lifetime. And that sporting event occurred December 23rd, 1972, in the form of the Pittsburgh Steelers vs the Oakland Raiders. What made that game so significant? The Immaculate Reception, of course.

In terms of Pittsburgh sports, there's never been a more memorable event in the history of Pittsburgh sports, and likely American football. In terms of being significant, this game truly launched the Steelers into prominence in terms of football. They were an average team until this point, and defeating their chief rivals at the time in the form of the Oakland Raiders is what put the Steelers over the hump. They challenged the Dolphins perfect season and came closer then anyone else did in ending it, which served as the catalyst for the Steelers to win 4 Super Bowls and become the team of the decade.

In terms of being a one-time deal, the details of the event were truly staggering. Unable to move the football all game, the Steelers trailed 7-6 with 23 seconds remaining from their own 40 yard line. QB Terry Bradshaw was under tremendous pressure as he heaved the football down the field in the direction of RB Frency Fuqua. As the ball was arriving, Fuqua collided with Raiders safety Jack Tatum. The ball collided off of Tatum, and spiraled backwards ten yards in the air to Steelers RB Franco Harris, who made a shoestring catch, shrugged off a Raiders defender at the 15 yard line, and ran in for the only touchdown of the game for the Steelers. We've seen laterals run in for TD's, deflections and batted balls returned, and 100+ yard TD returns. But never in the history of the NFL have we seen a ball careen backwards ten yards right to another player. This occurred 10 years before my birthday, so it wasn't an "in the moment" event for me.

Of the great Pittsburgh sports memories that I didn't experience in my lifetime, this one was by far the most memorable, exciting, and once-in-a-lifetime type of events. To be able to travel back and be one of those hundreds who rushed the field after the referees ruled it an official TD would be an amazing experience. In fact, there's no sporting event that I wish I could have attended more.
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Old 02-20-2011, 02:24 PM
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There's been many great events of all time, but if I was able to go back into a time machine and go to any event that I could, it would be the 1991 World Series between the Atlanta Braves versus the Minnesota Twins. Why? Lets take a little trip down memory lane to see why this was my choice...

First of all, baseball, above all others, is my favorite sport. So I was going to select the most interesting and best World Series that has ever occured. Why is it the best ever? Just take a look at how the two teams fared the year before. Minnesota - last place in their division. Atlanta - last place in their division. Nobody was picking either of these teams making a splash in the season, let alone a pennant. So, for the first time in MLB history, someone was going to pull off a worst to first turnaround.

The second reason why I chose this series is because it's astonishing how close this series really was. 5 of the 7 games were 1 run contests. 3 went to extra innings. Only one game wasn't a close game, and there was still a good amount of runs scored. This series is also the longest World Series, in terms of innings, ever, with 69 total innings (yes, even longer then the 9 game series' that were held in the early 1900's.)

One more reason why this is the event I chose: the performances of Kirby Puckett. Puckett, a future HOF, had a series-saving performance in game 6. Already with a Single and a Triple, Kirby ended game 6 and sent the Twins to see another day with his walk off home run shot, one of the most memorable home run shots in World Series history (along with Mazeroski's and Joe Carter's).

And finally, the most important reason why I chose this series was because of the epic Game 7 pitching duel between Jack Morris and John Smoltz. Neither man would let the other team gain the advantage for the first 9 innings. Hell, there were a few times Twins manager Tom Kelly wanted to pull Morris from the game but he said hell no (he pitched 10 innings with 126 total pitches) multiple times. Finally, in the bottom of the tenth, the Twins got their run and the stadium went crazy. It would've been the ultimate game to attend, no matter who you were cheering for. These are reasons why I would've attended the 1991 World Series.
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Old 02-20-2011, 05:13 PM
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This is an interesting topic, and one which is very difficult to debate, as there is clearly no right or wrong answer. How can I tell LSN80, or Megatron, or anyone else that their choice of event to attend is wrong, or how can they tell me my choice is not appropriate? But it is a debate, so here goes.

Regarding LSN80 and the choice of the Immaculate Reception, there is no doubt that this would have been an excellent occurrence to have witnessed live, especially for a person who has spent their entire life in Pittsburgh. But with all due respect, it pales in comparison to the Summit Series, especially from the perspective of a Canadian sports enthusiast. When push comes to shove, the Immaculate Reception was a brief snippet of time in an otherwise lackluster football game. As I understand it, this was a football game marked by a distinct lack of offense. It took a fluky bounce to salvage an otherwise uninspired game. While I am sure this would have been exciting to see, in the end, while they did win the game, they ultimately came up short in the Superbowl. They did not disrupt the perfect season of the Dolphins. The Summit Series would have had far less significance had Canada come up short in the final game of the Series. I would have been far more impressed with the Immaculate Reception had the Steelers won the Superbowl and interfered with perfection in the process. And I am not buying this as the catalyst behind the Steelers development into a dynasty. This was destined to happen regardless, even if the football gods had not chosen to hand the ball to Franco Harris.

To Megatron, I love MLB baseball as much as the next guy, but one particular World Series cannot compare to the Summit Series. Regardless of the participants, the outcome, and the dramatic events involved, it ultimately was still just one World Series. This simply pales in comparison to the significance of the Summit Series for Canadian hockey fans. Granted, Canadian fans of the fabulous game of hockey have more passion for the game than do our American counterparts. I would not expect the American faithful to appreciate this fact regarding hockey, all miracles on ice aside.

The Summit Series will never be equalled. It is a different time, a different world. The Cold War is over. The Soviet Union is not the foreign assembly of Communist "bad guys" that they were four decades ago. The NHL now features a melting pot of Canadians, Americans, Russians, Swedes, Finns, Czechs, etc., who play together all the time. The feelings of nationalism will never again be as high as they were in 1972. And therefore, the magnitude of the comeback, and the significance it held for a nation, and for the players involved who became national heroes in the process (even to present day), this is something which with all due respect simply cannot be compared to a lucky bounce in a football game which did not result in a championship, or to a baseball series which has been duplicated by other World Series since then.

Again, not to challenge anyone's choice of event to be able to attend if they could, but I simply cannot think of anything, including the choices above of my fellow posters, which can compare to the Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union in the autumn of 1972.
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Old 02-20-2011, 07:21 PM
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For me it's easily the Miracle on Ice. The USA hockey team was a huge underdog in the 1980 Olympics to the Soviet team. The Soviets were 27-1-1 in Olympic play from 1964 to 1980 and the US was able to take them out 4-3. The International Ice Hockey Federation named the victory the number international ice hockey story of the century.

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Just from a historical perspective this was a huge sporting event. It has already spawned two movies and an HBO documentary. It was one of the biggest upsets in sports history and the fact that it took place in New York made the atmosphere absolutely electric. Hockey isn't one of my favorite sports but to me there is no other event in sports history that would be as exciting as the Miracle on Ice to be at live.
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Old 02-21-2011, 04:35 PM
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Granted, Canadian fans of the fabulous game of hockey have more passion for the game than do our American counterparts. I would not expect the American faithful to appreciate this fact regarding hockey, all miracles on ice aside.
Not. Buying. This. I know many diehard Steeler fans here in Pittsburgh that are bigger Penguin fans then they are Steeler fans. Myself included. This was all about personal preference and I would have rather been present for the most exciting play in NFL history involving my favorite team then see a hockey series between the Canadiens and the Russians. The "Series of the Century" was important to you as a Canadien because it involved your fellow countrymen. I understand it's impact on the game of hockey in general, but being that it didn't involve the United States or Pittsburgh sports in general, it pales in comparison to me. Further, the Summit Series wasn't an EVENT. It was a series between two countries of 8 games that took place over the span of 27 DAYS. There was even a two week hiatus in between the series in which the Canadien team played several exhibition games. This is about being at an event, not at attending a month long series.


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Regarding LSN80 and the choice of the Immaculate Reception, there is no doubt that this would have been an excellent occurrence to have witnessed live, especially for a person who has spent their entire life in Pittsburgh. But with all due respect, it pales in comparison to the Summit Series, especially from the perspective of a Canadian sports enthusiast. When push comes to shove, the Immaculate Reception was a brief snippet of time in an otherwise lackluster football game. As I understand it, this was a football game marked by a distinct lack of offense.
From the perspective of a Canadien sports enthusiast? Sure. But the fact remains that it was the most exciting play in the history of Pittsburgh sports, which is what truly matters to me. As for the idea of being a lackluster game, it was a defensive battle. You of all people, as a hockey entusiast, should know that some of the most exciting hockey games are the low scoring ones. This was the same case between the John Madden lead Raiders, and the Chuck Nole lead "Steel Curtain" Steelers. Ive seen the game onm NFL films, and it was anything but boring or lackluster.

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While I am sure this would have been exciting to see, in the end, while they did win the game, they ultimately came up short in the Superbowl. They did not disrupt the perfect season of the Dolphins. The Summit Series would have had far less significance had Canada come up short in the final game of the Series. The Summit Series would have had far less significance had Canada come up short in the final game of the Series.
Im not sure how this is relevant. Winning this ONE game, I stress ONE game, in the spectacular fashion in which they did allowed them the opportunity to challenge the Dolphins and their perfect record. Whether they won the next game or not is irrelevant, it was the Steelers/Raiders game that was exciting to me.

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I would have been far more impressed with the Immaculate Reception had the Steelers won the Superbowl and interfered with perfection in the process.
This is all well and good, but again, irrelevant to the discussion. I may have been more impressed and chose ONE of the games in the Summit Series, likely the Final one, if it had been between the United States and Russia. But I chose an event that was relevant in the United States, specifically in Pittsburgh.

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And I am not buying this as the catalyst behind the Steelers development into a dynasty. This was destined to happen regardless, even if the football gods had not chosen to hand the ball to Franco Harris.
You don't have to buy it, but the 1,500 or so articles that have been written by Pittsburgh Sports Journalists would say otherwise. Any article regarding analysis of the Immaculate Reception over the years directly links that play to setting the groundwork for the rest of the Steelers success within the decade. The decade in which the Steelers went 4 for 4 in Super Bowls, by the way. It's simply the ONE event more then any other that I would choose to be at. No game will ever feature a play so spectacular in the history of professional sports. It's the most amazing play in the history of Pittsburgh sports. It's significance in Pittsburgh sports history cannot be denied. And unlike many other great Pittsburgh sports events, it happened before I was born, so I wasn't able to witness it live even on TV. For those reasons, there's no game I'd rather have been at.
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