Do you remember what happened on June 17th, 1994?
It’s not quite like the events of September 11th 2001, December 7th 1941 or November 22nd 1963.
But it’s way more significant than I ever realized.
I’m a pretty big sports fan. I mostly love watching football, but I really like the human stories within the sports world.
ESPN has this great series called 30 for 30. I’ve learned about so many sports stories from times I wasn’t even alive. And some, from sports I wasn’t really interested in. Each film is created by a different director and is put together differently. It’s fascinating.
On June 17th, 1994, I was 9 years old. I was in 2nd grade. I am amazed at how much I do remember from my younger years, but reliving this particular day through this 30 for 30 was intense and also brought much refection and realization.
This particular documentary looks back at several sports stories that occurred all at the same time. There were different emotions, highs and lows and a huge turn of events that captured a large audience and changed perspective for so many people.
Do you know what sports-related events happened on this day?
1) Arnold Palmer played his final round of golf at the US OPEN. I think if you said his name today to anyone under the age of 21, they would think you were talking about a delicious drink. I know who he was, but not even my generation really knew what he did for the sport of golf. He spent FORTY-something years as a professional. Wow.
2) The New York Rangers had won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1940. There was a huge celebration going on in downtown NYC and a parade. The excitement was running high.
3) It was the NBA finals and the Knicks were getting ready to take on the Houston Rockets in Game 5, the last home game for the Knicks that season.
4) Baseball was still being played, but in a matter of days, the players would go on strike and there would be no World Series that year.
5) Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman had just been murdered and OJ Simpson was supposed to turn himself in as the prime suspect.
I remember that trial, I think anyone who watched television did, because it was on everyday. It’s the first time I remember caring about a trial and I really didn’t even know the greatness that once was OJ Simpson.
As I am watching this documentary, it’s as if I am reliving that day, although this time I am much older and more capable of understanding what it meant.
I know that life is more than sports and on this day, it is more certain than ever.
1) Arnold Palmer went on to play in the senior PGA. He moved on.
2) The NY Rangers haven’t won a Stanley Cup since then, but they still have fans and have moved on.
3) The Knicks won game 5, but went on to lose the series and still haven’t won a championships since ’73. They moved on.
4) MLB had a strike because of money issues. The NFL, NBA and NHL have all dealt with that recently. I know these players make a living, but it’s entertainment to the rest of us and they don’t need to make tens of millions of dollars. It was eventually resolved and they moved on.
5) And after a lengthy and public trial, OJ was acquitted of murder. And all of a sudden we cared more about celebrity that was ever necessary. I learned from the documentary that an estimated HALF of the US population likely watched the verdict. HALF? I knew that trial had an impact on many things, but I had no idea it was to that extent.
From that point on, he was no longer a hall of fame football player to me (I never really experienced that side of him.). He would be known as that famous athlete who seemed guilty of committing this crime, but got away with it (in my opinion). Except he didn’t. He was later found guilty in a civil suit, and now he is in jail for unrelated crimes.
It’s such a sad story, but it also shows that athletes and celebrities are humans too. They mess up, they are far from perfect and they aren’t always the best role models. He didn’t move on.
We all remember days in history that had an impact on us. And we also have personal memories that make ordinary days seem extraordinary.
I think it’s important to remember what we take away from days like this. If there is an emotion felt, a lesson learned, or an idea created, then we can move on.
I promise I didn’t give away the whole documentary and I highly recommend you watch this one and others. Check them out at: http://espn.go.com/30for30/
In the comments I would love to hear from you! What do you remember about this day? The OJ Simpson trial? What impact do events like these have on you and your perspective?