Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure.
Remember Vinko Bogatej? He was a ski-jumper from Yugoslavia who, while competing in the
1970 World Ski-Flying Championship in Obertsdorf, West Germany, fell off the takeoff ramp
and landed on his head. Ever since, the accident has been used to highlight "the
thrill of victory, the agony of defeat" on ABC's "Wide World of Sports."
Bogatej was hospitalized after the spill, but he recovered and now works in a foundry in
Yugoslavia. Doug Wilson, a producer for ABC, interviewed him last year for a special
anniversary edition of the show. "When we told him he's been on the program ever
since 1970," says Wilson, "he couldn't believe it. He appears on Television 130
times a year."
Thomas Rogers in N.Y. Times, quoted in Reader's
Digest, December, 1980.
It was a dark and dreary day in 1916, a day well suited to the most brutally
devastating rout in all of football history. One look at the two teams showed trouble
ahead. On the Georgia Tech side were semi-human monsters, gorilla-like behemoths trained
by John Heisman, the man football's highest award was later named after. Heisman was a
fanatic. He would not let his Yellow Jackets use soap or water because he considered them
debilitating. Nor could they eat pastry, pork, veal, hot bread, nuts, apples, or coffee.
His reason? "They don't agree with me," he growled, "so they'd better not
agree with you."
The Yellow Jackets, with eight All-Southern players, were intent on
building their reputation. They lured lowly Cumberland to the game with a $500 guarantee.
The Cumberland team had several players who had never played football before. The official
who accepted the offer had long since graduated and left the team in the hands of the team
manager. Even the trip to Atlanta had been a disaster: Cumberland arrived with only 16
players. Three were lost at a rest stop in Nashville. The game began. Georgia Tech scored
63 points in the first quarter, averaging touchdowns at one-minute-and-twenty-second
intervals. Even after such a lopsided start, the rest of the game was filled with tension
and drama! No one questioned who would win, of course. But could Cumberland players be
convinced to finish the game? The manager, George Allen, paced the sidelines, exhorting
the team to "hang in there for Cumberland's $500." They did, and with it
collected the honor of the worst loss in college football history: 222-0.
left posterity one of its most memorable football plays. A Cumberland kickoff returner
fumbled, probably from sheer weariness. He yelled to a teammate, "Pick up the
ball!" Replied his teammate, "Pick it up yourself! You dropped it!"