So now its time to adjust the rearview mirror, and heaven help us if Objects really are Closer Than They Appear. Thats 2012 back there, flipping us off. And I have to say the feeling is mutual.
Somewhere behind us, after all, receding blessedly to a speck, is Lance Armstrong, unmasked at last as the Michael Corleone of cycling. Jerry Sanduskys there, too, and God bless the bars between him and all the children whose innocence he didnt have time to steal. Standing there with him are his enablers, Graham Spanier and Tim Curley.
Look, theres Gary Bettman, the big dope. And Bobby Petrino, dirty old man par excellence. And all the other villains in a year stuffed with villainy – and thats not even bringing up Roger The Hammer Goodell, who exposed a lot of decent human beings (aka, the infamous Replacement Refs) to public ridicule just to save his owners a few lousy bucks.
It was not a very good year, to stand the song on its head. But you know what?
Ill take it anyway.
Ill take it for its redeeming moments, of which there were many. The best thing about sports, see, is that for all its outrages, it isnt the outrages that stick. Its those lovely instants of purity, when the bone truth of things stands revealed. Its those flashes of something real in the midst of all the manufactured drama, all the posturing and farce.
And so when I look in my rearview, as 2012 gutters out, it wont be Armstrong or Sandusky I see. No, indeed.
Itll be a certain bunch of indomitable young women from Concordia, shedding their teenage cool to jump up and down like preschoolers as the clock goes to zeroes and they become state basketball champions.
Itll be the pure fierce beauty of Indiana-Kentucky in the Sweet 16, the single best game of the NCAA tournament.
Itll be Jamie Lovell down there at center ice, shaking both fists in joy as the final seconds expire in the final game of the CHL Presidents Cup championships. Or Dario Franchitti in Victory Lane at Indy, rocking white shades to fill, at least momentarily, the awful void left by the death of Dan Wheldon, his white-shades-rocking friend.
Ill treasure 2012 for that. Ill treasure it for the lump the size of a Buick that Chuck Paganos locker-room speech left in your throat when he came back to visit his Indianapolis Colts in the middle of his fight against leukemia. And Ill treasure it for a certain crisp October night up at East Noble, when the gun sounded on the Knights football season and Luke Amstutz, their stellar young coach, wore the stricken look of a man who had just had all his major organs removed.
The season was over, after all, and abruptly. Down 35-14 to Concord after three quarters of their sectional opener, the Knights staged a rally for the ages, tying it at 35-all. But with all of Kendallville howling, Concord stole the game and all the air from the place with a last-second field goal.
And here was Amstutz, bereft. Eventually he wandered out to midfield, where he knelt between the blue E and the blue N, and put his chin in his hand, and stared off toward the infinite.
Ill takethat kind of caring as my bellwether for 2012. And Ill cross my fingers that something as pure and as elemental and as sublime crosses my path again in 2013.