About last night
Was Nebraska's record-setting volleyball match at Memorial Stadium the most singular Husker game we'll ever see?
What was the best Nebraska game of your lifetime?
I use the past tense intentionally. Not to tell you how to think or to diminish anyone’s personal memories. I never want to do either of those things.
But I’m struggling to come up with an argument for anything other than Nebraska volleyball setting a world record for attendance (92,003) at a women’s sporting event while beating Omaha 3-0. The latter was more of a certainty than the former. I didn’t know if the Huskers would get the record, and, as the Memorial Stadium match drew near, I started to consider worst-case scenarios.
So much attention had been placed on setting a record, what if it didn’t happen? What if the match was just an unforgettable event that 89,000 people attended? That’s still a pretty good-case scenario, all things considered, but all things rarely seem to be considered in a sped-up world where what you say right now comes with immediate feedback. Too many things are on/off, black/white, pass/fail, good tweet/bad tweet.1
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If Nebraska obliterates the NCAA record for attendance at a women’s volleyball match, but falls short of the biggest records out there, I don’t trust an online world enough to handle it. But it wasn’t a concern. The Huskers did it, broke the record.
I can’t think of anything more memorable in the past or foresee anything more memorable in the future that would top that. Let’s walk this out, using the past because we can’t see the future.
Game of the Century? Nothing will tarnish that game. It’s part of college football’s fabric, but there were about a dozen “games of the century” in the 20th century because that was just a sportswriter superlative.
Any of the national titles, football or volleyball? I was a sophomore in high school when Nebraska trounced Florida in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl, and, boy, is there nothing you like more as a 15-year-old than winning big. But some team wins the national title every year in every sport. It’s brutally hard to do, yes, but it’s how every season has to end.
Certain games might have more personal meaning––a last game with a loved one, a first game with a child, a first game as a child. Those are yours to have and celebrate, and I’d love to hear about them. For broadest appeal, however, I don’t know if we’ll ever see what we saw last night.
What everyone in Nebraska pulled off on Wednesday was singular and global. It felt like the entire random group of sports people I follow on social media, from Mississippi head football coach Lane Kiffin to former U.S. soccer striker Jozy Altidore, took note of this match. My former colleague, Brady Oltmans,2 pitched a story to British daily The Guardian and got a very quick “yes.” A world record was within range and, theoretically, that could be picked up by any outlet in the world.
That’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about Volleyball Day in Nebraska. The Huskers’ record will be broken eventually (but not easily), and that won’t matter at all for anyone who was part of it.
How many Nebraska games can you say that about? That was my first thought, and I only got to watch it on TV. I still felt like I was part of it.
So did many others.
Our house style, for now, continues to refer to X as Twitter, and posts as “tweets” until we get used to it or begrudgingly acknowledge the change.