Checking the score on your phone may be the last level of attachment a person can have to a sporting event. The score gives us a general idea of how the game is transpiring, but it leaves out the intimate details that are often the greater than the outcome. For me, that's rarely felt truer than last night.
By the time I sit down in a Raleigh bar, Oregon is on the screen beating Stanford. I pay attention to that game, and will occasionally be reminded of "USC 44 WSU 17." I still know nothing of the details. I am curious as to how it transpired and wondering why the Cougars couldn't muster more than 17 points. Unfortunately, my phone is nearly dead and I needed every bit of battery life to stay in contact with my friend.
It wasn't until the Oregon game ended that I realize the score was the least of anybody's worries. Out of the corner of my eye I notice that the WSU-USC highlights are on screen - a curious sight in itself. Then the images of Connor Halliday going down and screaming in pain arrive in this bar in North Carolina. Halliday is carried off in a stretcher. I have no sound, nothing to explain the scene except my own assumptions.
Initially, I can't accept what I know to be true about the nature of Halliday's injury. I'm still telling the person next to me that he is going to break all the records. The guy that threw for the most yards ever in a game and still lost. Everyone knew him by that fact, so they didn't dispute his record-breaking capabilities. What was up for the debate? That he would have record-breaking opportunities.
As the night goes on and the images repeat a second and third time, I begin to accept the reality of what has happened to Halliday. I still don't know the details, I just know he's probably not coming back. We leave the bar and I'm arguing that he's done for the season. There's no one opposing the argument, just nods of agreement, but I argue anyway.
As soon as I get back to my friend's place, I plug in my phone and finally get the terrible news. Halliday's leg is broken, his career at WSU is done. I'm sick. I'm angry. Then I'm sad.
I'm not sad for WSU football. I'm not sad for my fan interest. I'm just sad for Connor Halliday. No one deserves this sort of injury, but it seems that he deserved it less than most.