It was the philosopher E.F. Schumacher who wrote that what separates man from animals is our self-awareness. We are not only able to think, but we are aware of our thinking. It is this power that makes us human and also capable of transcending our humanity.
And then there’s the sports equivalent: the SAGG.
As a sports fan, the SAGG is about the best thing you could ask for. SAGG stands “self-aware great game,” or a game that is so great that you know it’s great when you’re watching it. It doesn’t matter how it ends, it doesn’t matter who wins, because the game itself is already an epic. Sometimes, during a SAGG, you can see the gravitas of the moment rub off on the players. They start to realize that, yeah, this is not an ordinary game. The game has transcended itself.
Joe Posnanski coined the term SAGG back in 2010. I can’t find the exact post, but I believe he created it after the Kansas State-Xavier Sweet 16 game, a game I’ve written about before. He wrote that sometimes games get to be so good that you just find yourself inside. And this, I think, is why we watch sports, to have moments like this where you know – where everyone knows – that the thing you are watching is a great thing. I suppose that’s true for entertainment in general.
A SAGG is a rare event – they maybe happen a handful of times per year. I think back to some over the years – the Twins/Tigers tiebreaker in 2009, the Giants/Packers 2007 NFC Championship, the Isner/Mahut Wimbledon match, the Derek Jeter dives-into-the-stands game, these are all games that created some amazing storylines and evolved into something that was unforgettable. And we knew it when we watched.
Here is something I’ve noticed – four recent college basketball SAGG’s all had an almost identical call from Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale. It’s happened once per year, and it’s funny because I only watch a handful of regular season college basketball games each year, but one more time I witnessed a SAGG with that same call again.
This is the Kentucky/Indiana finish from 2011, which ended Kentucky’s undefeated season.
And then in 2012, Austin Rivers hit this shot to beat UNC:
And then in 2013, Butler beat Gonzaga on this crazy finish (the 1-minute mark):
And now we’re in 2014, and on Saturday night Duke hit this shot to send the game to overtime against Syracuse:
Each time, Dan Shulman screams Yes! or Ohhh! and Dick Vitale says I can’t believe it! or Unbelievable! with that same cadence. Four. Straight. Years. This is what SAGG’s are made of.
Anyway, the entire country was treated to the opposite of a SAGG, the anti-SAGG, on Sunday, when the Seahawks destroyed the Broncos in the Superbowl.
Here’s one quick thought that I would like to share. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Seahawks. In 2005, I picked them to go to the Superbowl, and everyone told me it was an awful pick. And then Shaun Alexander went on to have one of the greatest seasons ever for a running back. The Seahawks coasted into the Superbowl as the #1 seed in the NFC, but of course by that time no one remembered that I had picked them in September.
Well, that Superbowl didn’t end well for them, but here’s my most vivid memory from that game: as the PA guy introduced the Seahawks, and the players ran onto the field, a song started playing. I didn’t know what song it was, but I thought it had one of the coolest intros ever. For months I tried searching for it. Remember, this was back in 2005, so there was no Shazam, there was no Twitter, so I had to dig to find that song. And it took me awhile, but I finally found it. It was The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony.
So last night I was curious to see if the Seahawks would run out to that same song, almost a decade later. They did.