By James Nahikian
Words often cannot describe how impressive certain streaks in sports are. Cal Ripken’s stretch of 2,632 straight games played is probably the most impressive. Or maybe it’s Brett Favre’s similar feat of 297 straight regular-season starts. Others include the UCLA Men’s basketball team under John Wooden, winning 88 consecutive games or the UConn women’s basketball team, more recently, winning 90 consecutive games. And you can’t forget Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in major league baseball. All of these streaks are special because the athletes and teams are performing at such a high level, and they are doing so day after day, or game after game.
One thing I have learned throughout playing and watching sports is, if a streak is so impressive that it is given the name, “The Streak,” it truly is something to admire.
This year, while playing hockey for my high school, I went on a streak where I scored at least a hattrick in four consecutive games. In other terms, I scored 13 goals in four games. A lot of local papers referred to my accomplishment as “The Streak.” Although this is a very personal and much scaled down version of my previous examples, it allows me to relate to other accomplishments very well.
During my streak, I never really thought about it. In fact, it wasn’t until a local reporter interviewed me after the fourth game that I even realized the significance in what I was doing. I then felt a lot of pressure. Especially because our next game was against our city rival, and although my coach did his best to pull me aside the day before the game to calm me down, there wasn’t anything he could really do at that point. People begin to expect things from you, and they expect you to perform all the time. Needless to say, I didn’t score one goal that game. Our team played awful, and we got destroyed in front of hundreds of people. It was one of 3 games out of our 26 game schedule, that I failed to score a goal.
Did I let the pressure of my streak get the best of me? I’d say yes. I still went out there and played my heart out, and I still generated a lot of good scoring chances. I probably even deserved better, their goalie played spectacular that night. But throughout the entire game, I was pressing. It was in my head that I felt like I needed to score. Every shift I didn’t, I let myself get a little bit more frustrated.
Keep in mind, this was a high school hockey game. Most people probably forgot about what happened when they went home that night. There were not 10 reporters waiting in our locker room after the game to ask me what went wrong. And besides a few friends (Jokingly) giving me a hard time the next day at school, “The Streak” was forgotten about and I could move on. There was no more pressure, and I went on to finish the season strong and had a lot of fun doing so.
Looking back on it now, I can be really happy about it all. I can look at a few newspaper articles a few years from now, and remember the great times that I shared with all of my teammates.
The same reason as to why my streak was somewhat impressive, makes college and professional streaks five thousand times more impressive. These athletes are constantly, one hundred percent of the time, in the spotlight and under intense pressure. I was under much less pressure for maybe a day or two and I couldn’t handle it. If these athletes don’t perform, they lose playing time, they hear about it from the media and read about it in the papers, they see it in the headlines, they get booed by fans, they become jokes on radio shows and on TV, they get released, and their general image turns into someone who just stinks at life in general. Not someone who is going out there and trying their best like I was. Fans forget that these athletes are real people who are just trying to do their job the best they can.
So if an athlete can go out there and do something amazing and go on a streak, it should be celebrated and they deserve all the recognition that they get. Not because they are getting payed to perform, but because it is next to impossible to perform with that consistency in the sports industry. I guess if you’re not around sports than you wouldn’t understand, but believe me when I say that a streak in any sport is impressive. It takes a very unique person to take over a game when all the pressure in the world is on their shoulders. Like the famous quote in sports says, “Big time players, make big time plays, in big time games.” However, what it should say is, “Once in a lifetime players, make big time contributions, in every game.”
James Nahikian blogs about the industry of sports. And specializes in articles about the Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball and Bowling Green State University Athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org And follow him on twitter @KingNahikian or facebook where you can find links to his articles and updates about future posts.