It seems like even the casual sports fan knows what “buzzer-beaters” mean. But, for the uninitiated, a buzzer-beater is a basketball shot taken just before the game clock expires, when the buzzer sounds, that frequently results in the shooter’s team winning the game, the shooter be mobbed and the fans going wild.
Are buzzer-beaters the most exciting 5 seconds in sports?
As March is that time of year when buzzer-beaters are in peak season, let’s consider a few interesting aspects of the shot:
1.) Are buzzer-beaters the most exciting 5 seconds in sports? It’s high drama in a very short time frame. Buzzer beaters are the ultimate underdog of shots as the team is usually down or in a difficult situation with little time. A shot generally falls into the buzzer-beater category if the team shooting is tied or down by 3 points or less. Everyone loves a good underdog. The outcome of the game comes down to a few seconds of play. There’s desperation, heroic effort, a focused spotlight, and crowd involvement. It’s good theater. What more can you ask for? Would you rather watch a replay of the Kentucky Derby — “The most exciting 2 minutes in sports” — or 24 buzzer-beating shots?
2.) Don’t buzzer-beaters seem to happen a lot more often than they should? It seems like sports anchors have their pick of buzzer-beater clips to show during the basketball season. I know what you’re thinking. We only see the made shots. Just like folks don’t post players’ missed shots on YouTube, you don’t see or remember a lot of the shots that don’t go in at the end of games. Nevertheless, it seems like a much higher percentage of these shots go in than should. Doesn’t it?
Reenact the big shot
3.) Is it a standard operating procedure that the local news station has to invite the buzzer-beating hero to reenact his shot for the local news? If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it 20 times. Funny thing is, the player is usually able to duplicate the shot after a few tries. What seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime shot, is duplicated with apparent ease, minus the crowd, and the game situation. Even the second time around, it makes for interesting TV.
5.) Is this the best shot — so to speak — for mortals to make it on an ESPN highlight? Excluding being a spectator in the background of a highlight or a cameraman that’s run over — because that doesn’t count — it just might be. Some seemingly ordinary players have made extraordinary shots to capture the limelight. So, if you want to make it on Sports Center, all you have to do is make a 70 foot shot with 2 seconds to go and your team down by 1 point. Good luck.
— Mike O’Halloran
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