All sports, not just the ones represented by varsity teams, have one thing in common--competition. There is competition against another person, another team, against oneself and all those other things the prologue to the Wide World of Sports show tells us about.
Take for instance, earlier in the week I was wrestling with a Chem 20 problem set in a one-on-one battle. The problem set almost always wins, but for once I won. And when I win any match, I give out a cheer, right? Well, the librarian didn't think so.
Last Wednesday night I witnessed another unusual sporting event--one of the greatest head-to-head pinball battles in the history of Quincy House. In the first round of the Q-House pinball tournament, Donna Lilly, the senior silverball sensation, faced John Wilson, who in spite of rooming with me is a pretty decent player.
The rules of the match are that one person must win two of three games on any of the four machines. Lilly won a close, if lackluster, first game on Super Star (about 59,000 to 49,000) and then Wilson took the second game rather easily on Triple Action (86,000 to around 27,000). Neither player, up to this point, had the crowd of 10 to 13 spectators convinced that they were playing championship pinball.
The contestants were going to flip for the first game of the final action, but John wanted to play last anyway, so the idea of the toss was thrown out. The final game began.
In a fine showing of pinball playing, Lilly charged out with 30,000 on the first ball and ended up with 86,000 points for the game, well over the 70,000 needed for a replay. She didn't, however, collect on the lit special that could have put her over 100,000 points with another ball yet to go, but her lead still seemed safe.
Wilson, showing off his pinball prowess, racked up an amazing 44,000 points on the first ball of his game, pulling him back from the jaws of what appeared to be almost certain defeat. After three more balls, he stood at 83,450, perfect chocking range. This is the essence of sports--a man reacting to a challenge, knowing exactly where he stands and what he has to put out to win. Winners are the ones that don't choke, the ones who get the key hit with the bases loaded, two outs, and losing by a run in the bottom of the ninth, the players who make the shoestring catch for a first down and maybe a touchdown. In this case, the competitor who can, with a single ball remaining, somehow collect the all-important victory points.
Well, John did it, almost anticlimatically. He lit up the remaining of the three lights at the top of the table (the "P," as the "SU" and "ER" were already lit) which gave him 5,000 points and the game. He finished with 124,000.
Some people sneer; pinball huh, what a sport, But it all depends on how you look at it. If competition, pressure and excitement is your definition, then this match equals any of them.