March Madness is one of my favorite times of year and I’m excited this year because my older son (who is 7) filled out a bracket with me. My 5 year old is making his own brackets – and I love that about him. But I digress. Yesterday was their first real experience of March Madness (that they can remember) and we had a lot of fun! We watched some favorites win but most exciting were the close games, like Ohio St vs. VCU where Ohio St was able to pull off the upset.
But, are they really upsets? Part of me says “Yes, of course. One team is ranked higher on paper; therefore, they are supposed to win.” The other part says “Statistics may mean they are a better team. But are they better because of their talent or are they better because of the exposure and opportunity they have had to play together as a team – which in turn, makes them a stronger talent?”
Take my team – University of Kentucky (yes, nice choice this year but they have been my team for over 20 years) vs. Hampton yesterday. Hampton’s coach gave a great interview the other day when asked if they had a chance to beat Kentucky. His response was perfect as it was something like: We made it to the Tournament – that is a big win in my book. Translation – no way in hell will we beat Kentucky but I’m proud of my boys for making it this far!
Hampton was definitely the Underdog and yes, they lost 79-56. But even though they lost the game, they gained experience and exposure. My guess is those boys will go home standing a little taller today and be slightly more confident going into next season – because they make it to the Tournament. Yes, they lost but it wasn’t due to lack of trying.
While it is all “just a game” I think this Tournament can bring some great lessons to my boys. Yes, upsets can happen – but they are usually close and not run-away games – you need to work hard. Yes, teams ranked #16 when playing the #1 team in the nation will probably lose – but they play the game and try their best – and become better players for it. Being the Underdog doesn’t mean you give up – it means you work to find opportunity and lessons from your experience.
March Madness – one of my favorite times of year.