ESPN SportsCentury Montage Encapsulates What Is Sport

Jameson FlemingSenior Writer IAugust 8, 2008

Before I begin, I must preface this article by saying, if you haven't seen the ESPN SportsCentury Montage, you won't understand this article. It can be viewed here.

During the end of the 20th Century, ESPN put together the mother of all sports montages when they aired the SportsCentury, a six minute and 52 second compilation of the best sports memories and moments.

The championships, the athletes, and the records - a whole century of them in just under seven minutes.

ESPN immortalized hundreds of the most beloved and even somewhat forgotten athletes of the past century.

Immortalising or simply leaving a legacy is what the pure, great athletes truly strive for. It's not for the money or the great fame, it's to be the best player possible, to be remembered.

Some moments don't need to be thrusted back into the spotlight because they will always be there. Lou Gehrig speaking to Yankee Stadium on Independence Day, Doug Flutie making the Hail Mary a permanent resident of the sports lexicon, and a group of amateur American hockey players making the biggest statement in global sports competition - those are the events we'll never forget.

But the montage reminds us of how great they were.

What this 352 seconds of pure sport does best is make us remember who we so easily forget.

It's the Jesse Owens's and Babe Didrikson Zaharias's we forget. We forget Ty Cobb being the best pure hitter for the first decade of the 20th Century and may a century from now forget Frank Thomas was the most feared hitter of the last decade of the 20th Century.

To the sports fan, the montage serves as portal to the past. Every shot triggers dozens of connections to other players, records, championship games.

To an aspiring journalist, it's motivation to work harder and fine tune your craft. It's hundreds of reasons to make a journalist want to reach the pinnacle of their profession.

It's to be a part of these society changing events, to stand on the sideline, to share the sorrows of the defeated and the joys of the victors.

When scandal breaks out in sports or great competition has been lacking and my love of sports begins to wane, the montage acts as a reminder to keep trudging on, watching SportsCenter, and reading books on the greatest.

It reminds me to keep watching because sports always offer those incredible moments captured in Cal/Stanford the band is on the field game or Christian Lattner drilling a turn-around to send Kentucky to defeat.

But lastly the pure production of the montage is phenomenal and ingenious.

The mix of orchestral music, announcer's calls and Aerosmith's Dream On perfectly captures the mood of a century.

The mix of records and triumphs with tragedy and loss make us equally remember those who have risen, but also those who have fallen.

But most of all, the athletes who have impounded their mark on the world are showcased at the end. It's simply the saving the best for last.

The indelible images of Hank Aaron, Bobby Orr, Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, and Mohammad Ali will lasted through the 20th Century and will almost certainly still be remembered at the end of the 21st Century.