There is no way to quantify this. It isn’t covered by any metrics or analytics. It’s nothing that can be proved. And yet I say it with some confidence:
South Florida awakened Monday smiling, feeling particularly good. It wasn’t just the perfect weather. It was the perfect weekend. If you are a fan of local sports, pro or college, chances are you are thrilled with your team today. Has that ever been the case? Where, all at once, we sports fans so calloused by disappointment are collectively so happy?
If you are fan of the Dolphins, Heat, Hurricanes football or Panthers hockey and you have something to complain about today, you are trying way too hard to find fault. Likewise if you are among the thousands of Miami-area Florida Gators alumni or fans, you too celebrate a thoroughly winning weekend that sent the dark clouds into hiding.
The endless fascination of sports is that it is the ultimate reality-TV, no scripts, no idea from week to week if your favorite team will let you down or lift you up. Sports are a thrill ride like a roller coaster is, the highs as exhilarating as they are only because the stomach-churning falls can come without warning.
The sharp dip could happen again here, and soon. Who knows? So we feel good when we can. We experience the joy of collective optimism, an inward buoyancy that costs nothing to feel but can be such an elusive, precious high.
Sports fans are naturally curmudgeonly, hardened by disappointment, tending to be critical.
Doesn’t feeling good feel good?
A month ago there was foreboding across the landscape of our games and teams. Now there is happiness. And the first weekend in November brought it all home.
Look at all of the pieces that suddenly have come together in a mosaic.
The Dolphins, off Sunday’s overwhelming 37-0 home rout of San Diego, have won three games in a row and it would be five in a row but for one play in that last-second loss to Green Bay.
Doubts about quarterback Ryan Tannehill and coach Joe Philbin dissipate like cigar smoke in a gust of wind. Miami is 5-3 at midseason and thinking playoffs.
The Heat is 3-0, the lone unbeaten team left in the NBA’s Eastern Conference, and Chris Bosh is very much looking the part of the new go-to guy. Frightfully early, yes, but Miami offers indications it can weather the departure of LeBron James, not collapse under the loss like so many envisioned.
The Hurricanes, off a 47-20 homecoming win over North Carolina, are a bowl-eligible 6-3 and playing their best ball of the season, led by the phenomenon of game-breaking running back Duke Johnson. The Duke of Gables’ 1,486 yards of offense should vault him into the Heisman Trophy conversation — which might yet happen if UM can win out starting with a suddenly plausible home upset of No.2-ranked Florida State in a delicious matchup coming Nov.15.
(By the way, not hearing much lately from the “Fire Al Golden” crowd. Also not seeing many harping Tweets from former Canes players prone to aiming Twitter drone strikes at the current program.)
Can’t forget Panthers hockey as a part of the good vibe. After a winless preseason and 0-3 start to the NHL schedule, Florida made it 4-2 since then with Saturday’s 2-1 home win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The postseason still seems a rugged climb but, grading on a curve, even the Cats are trending up.
Dolphins, UM football, Heat and Panthers all winning the same weekend is not unprecedented, but it’s a rare treat. (All we needed was the Marlins to contribute, interrupting their offseason to announce over the weekend that Giancarlo Stanton had agreed to a long-term deal. If only …)
I include the Gators in South Florida’s winning weekend and collective sports smile only because I know how many Swamp people live down here among us. Saturday’s unexpected 38-20 spanking of No.11-ranked Georgia in the annual World’s Largest Cocktail Party didn’t make a disappointing season all better for UF fans, but it helped. It was salve for the wound.
Sports lurches and veers, and there is no predicting it.
The Dolphins face a rugged road game next at Detroit. The Canes surely will be underdogs to FSU. The Heat are challenged by a fast reality-check game here Tuesday night against the unbeaten Houston Rockets.
Optimism can be a fleeting, fragile thing, so when it all coalesces — as it did this past weekend — we savor, and we appreciate when we can. We store the memories, the feeling, because, in leaner times, they help us remember how it was better once, and how it surely will be again.