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'Twas the Inning Before Christmas

On the night before Christmas, there doubtless were games,
And on Christmas, as well, we behold all the names
Not of Dasher and Dancer and Rudolph and Blitzen,
But of each guy who scores and of each guy who sits in
A whirlpool to undo the knots in his back,
Because sports never stops and there's never a lack
Of the running and tackling and throwing and shooting
That leads to the wildly obstreperous rooting
Of people who live for the games that they see
In the flesh, if they can, or, if not, on T.V.

There's basketball, football, and hockey unless
There's a lockout. There is, though I have to confess
That I've almost not missed it, with all of the news
Of the old boys of summer inclined to abuse
All the powders and potions enhancing their power,
And then there's the matter, from hour to hour,
Of where the free agents will next sign to play.
Oh, the updates are constant, they don't go away
Just because it's the season for fam'ly and giving,
Even now call the agents, all making a living.

But now, for a moment, since Christmas has come,
We might try to recall where the gifts have been from
That have brightened ouf seasons, no matter the sport,
The grace of the hitter, the stunning report
Of the crack of the bat as the ball disappears
In a colorful muddle of roaring and cheers,
The arc of a shot at the buzzer's last sound,
And the crowd's frozen moment, the ball coming down,
Then it drops through the net to record the last point
In a game so terrific it lights up the joint,
And the people departing the places they sat
Shouting "I can't believe it! Man, did you see that?!"

These are gifts that can lift us to glimpse for a time
How great talent and work can produce the sublime.
May your winter be studded by moments that show
You the happiest elegance sports fans can know
And may all of us see, despite hype, pomp, and fame
That the fun of that art is it's only a game.

This program aired on December 25, 2004. The audio for this program is not available.

Bill Littlefield Twitter Host, Only A Game
Bill Littlefield was the host of Only A Game from 1993 until 2018.

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