Sunday, March 23, 2014

Life Lessons In The Brackets

So what can the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament teach us about life?

It’s that NCAA Final Four time of year once again. And once again we're all a flutter over filling out brackets and trying to anticipate who will win–and when. It makes us all pseudo-basketball wizards. 

Many in the basketball world believe that tourney hoops is some of the best basketball ever. The passion and emotion exhibited by the fans, the players and even the commentators far surpasses that of the NBA or international rules basketball. Some believe it's because those kids are playing their hearts out for those pro scouts in the stands. Million-dollar contracts are on the line and every shot, every free throw–possibly every dribble–brings them that much closer to a giant payday with the coveted NBA rookie contract. 

That’s the complex and business side of college round-ball. There is something else, though. In tournament play, it's one-game elimination. One and done. Every game matters. No series, no best of five or seven games. Snooze you lose. Just like in life. Arguably, a powerful lesson for college hoops players and college-bound players alike as well as students of all ages (kids, I'm looking at you). 

But wait! That isn’t even the best part.

The best part is that a # 14 seed can upset a # 3 seed. A number one ranked team (or seed) can be toppled by a relative unknown, a nobody. And you know what the lesson is there, don’t you? That there are no guarantees, no such thing as a sure thing. No matter where you’re ranked, you have a shot at the big time. You have to be a giant-slayer and the road ahead is wrought with the toughest obstacles—but it can be done. Because it has been done. 

The best part of the NCAA tournament is that we can–even secretly–route for the underdog. Since the beginning of this nation’s history, we have been the underdog, the one least likely to succeed, the16th seed. It lifts our hearts and gives us hope that, even the least of us, can be champions.

And there is something pretty damn reassuring about that. 

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