Back in 1989, professional golfer Mike Reid blew a lead on the final two holes of the PGA Championship. A win would’ve been his first – and ultimately only – victory in one of golf’s four major tournaments. While philosophising about the loss at the post-round press conference, he captured the essence of sport when he said, “Sports is like life with the volume turned up.” In other words, everything – good and bad – happens much quicker and more intensely than in our day-to-day lives.
The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and the human drama of competition. It’s these glorious ups and the torturous downs that are the fundamental allure of sport. It demands everything, and in the heat of competition there are no regrets about the past or angst about the future. Life is now, and as a match ebbs and flows, it can be a wild ride. At crucial moments, the most difficult questions can be posed and to those who are unable to answer, it is a lonely and helpless feeling.
On the other hand, nothing in sport captures our imagination like a champion rising from the canvas and fighting their way back into a contest. No matter the level of competition or the particular sport, there is something exhilarating about seeing a player or team dig down deep to overcome the odds. Days of Miracle and Wonder captures these unforgettable moments and tells the unique stories behind 25 of the most incredible sporting victories.
Another reason we love sport is that it provides us with a simple clarity. It removes the frustrating shades of grey that often seem to dominate our daily lives to a point where we don’t know if we’re winning, losing or just getting by. Scoreboards show the winners and when full seasons reach their conclusion, the champions are crowned. But what happens when the result isn’t so clear? Where there is sport, there is always the potential for controversy.
Any given game can potentially be littered with controversial moments, where one side or the other is left feeling cheated. Players, coaches and fans of a team think every call should go their way but nothing has created as much criticism, debate or unabated feeling as the 25 events in Unlevel Playing Fields. These are the fascinating stories and consequences of not only the most debatable moments in sport, but also some of its most scandalous characters.
Fortunately, amid the desperation to win, sport also offers the opportunity for the core values of respect, civility and fair play to prevail. When an athlete or team is willing to forgo what they’ve been striving for and acts with genuine benevolence, the gesture is greatly acclaimed and deeply admired. It could even be thought of as the golden rule of sports because if you win through bad sportsmanship then it’s no real victory at all.
Excellence in Motion is a journey through some of the finest acts of sportsmanship ever displayed. While the match scores might have slipped into obscurity, these are the heart-warming and memorable moments that sport will never forget. It shows that whatever the competition, it is your response to winning and losing that can ultimately make you a winner or a loser. After all, to play is in the mind but to win is in the heart.
Amazon Kindle links (that you can use as hyperlinks) for the books are as follows: