By Dylan Davis
There are moments in sports that we remember as if they happened to us personally instead of to strangers in places not including our living room couches. For me, the list includes Donovan scoring against Algeria, Adam Wainwright striking out Brandon Inge to win the 2006 World Series and the greatest play in the history of sports. For fans, we don’t need affirmation from sports writers to know that those moments were incredible or memorable; we know as knowledgeable human beings that those moments in time will always be remembered and cherished.
While these types of moments are special in one way or another, they were only one play in the midst of thousands throughout their respective seasons (or tournaments). One moment, no matter how large in our memory, does not ultimately decide the outcome of a game. Landon Donovan did score a memorable goal, but if Clint Dempsey hadn’t been called for a bogus offside in the first half, it would have been a historical footnote. If Wainwright hadn’t struck out Carlos Beltran to end the NLCS, the Cardinals may not have even been in the position to win the World Series. If the stellar Steelers defense hadn’t given up two second-half touchdowns to Larry Fitzgerald, Pittsburgh would have been kneeling on the ball instead of throwing for the endzone in the final minute.
The point I’m trying to make is this: while one specific play does not change the outcome of a game as much as we think, it does change the perception of a player or event more than we can imagine. So while championships are won and lost over the long course of a season and playoffs, individual awards that are chosen subjectively by humans can be influenced by single moments. No award encapsulates this way of thinking more than the John Heisman Memorial Trophy Award.