For all those who don’t follow American football (and there are more than a few), the “Red Zone” is the area on the field between the opponent’s 20 yard line and the goal. If you have the ball, and you find yourself on that most coveted ground, you are very likely to get some points. Even if you don’t score a touchdown (7 points, including the extra point), you should at least be able to kick a field goal (3 points). Something good should happen. While not an absolutely “sure thing”, it is certainly an expectation.
Well, football is still about a month away. The London Olympics, however, are in full swing. And in my mind, at least, I find that word – expectation – popping up again and again. I expect certain things to happen. I expected Michael Phelps to win more gold in swimming. He did. I expect the U. S. basketball teams to win gold. They should. We’re better at round ball than anyone else in the world. We invented the damn sport.
These athletes, in other words, were in the “Red Zone” before the games even started. In a word, the top seeds. The ones to beat.
But they’re not the ones I’m watching. Being glued to the TV while Lebron James and Kobe Bryant beat up on Argentina isn’t my idea of fun. I really do hope they win, but all in all it doesn’t seem like a fair fight.
Actually, my real interests are in women’s soccer and women’s track and field – specifically, women’s pole vaulting. Why? Because those of us who live here in western NY have a very “local” interest. One of the star players on the U. S. women’s soccer team is Abby Wambach (from the Rochester suburb of Pittsford, NY). If you’ve watched any of the women’s soccer I’d guess that you’ve heard her name once or twice. If you happened to see yesterday’s match against Canada I’m certain that you heard her name. It was one of the most exciting soccer matches I’ve ever seen (the U. S. team won at the very end). It was an incredible display of teamwork and stamina.
In the women’s pole vault, an American named Jenn Suhr won the gold. Amazingly, this young woman from Riga, NY has only been doing this sport for 8 years. And she beat the reigning champion. An astounding feat. Impressive, to say the least. While I’m definitely not a huge fan of pole vaulting, it was fun to watch this particular event. I mean, how do you not root for local talent?
Especially when they’re in the Red Zone.