« Sports

Call it what it is

by Nick Vitrano

Down 3 goals in the 3rd…2 goals with under 90 seconds to play…the Boston Bruins orchestrated a never before composed game 7 comeback to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in OT last night in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Boston strong.

Toronto weak.

You can call it “getting tight.”  You can call it “nerves.”  You can call it “feeling the weight of the moment.”  You can sugar-coat the truth in any number of layers of semantics.  But the moment the tightness, the nerves, or the weight of the moment manifests itself in what we witnessed last night on the ice…it’s an all-out choke.

The Toronto Maple Leafs choked.  And as long as we’re at it, Sergio Garcia choked on Sunday.

That word has always been a source of debate in the world of sports.  Some feel that labeling one as such diminishes the achievement of the other.  Some feel the term ought to be reserved for only the mightiest of combatants or the most magnificent of collapses.  I’ve always felt it is merely a human condition.  No matter one’s skill level, no matter to what degree one is favored, no matter the stage, people simply choke.

It’s brutal to experience.  It’s arguably worse to watch.  It’s quicksand (as so eloquently described by Shane Falco):

Congratulations is due the Boston Bruins.  They did earn it.  Contrary to how the word choke is traditionally regarded, the Bruins exploited the weakness of their opponent for victory.  That’s sports.  That’s life.  But behind every historical comeback, there lies a colossal collapse.  Somebody choked.