Tuesday, April 5, 2016
WINNERS & LOSERS
Game Tying Shot, Internet Domain
Game Winners, Internet Domain
AND BARN BURNERS
Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone got to win in life and in sports? In sports we get one winner and everyone else in the tournament loses. No one remembers who finished second. The winner we crown in sports is the one with the best score. In life, we all generally have our own method of keeping score like the one who checks out with the most toys, the one who had the most friends, who lived a good life, etc.
The North Carolina Tar Heels just lost a buzzer beater NCAA Championship basketball game. That had been preceded just 4.7 seconds earlier by a gutsy come-from-behind, three point, double clutch, game tying shot by their senior leader. Tar Heel fans soared from euphoria to depression in 4.7 seconds. That’s a very wild ride with a jarring landing. The game defined a "barn burner" with multiple lead changes and the win going to the last team that touched the basketball! I've never witnessed a hay barn going up in wind fueled flames, but I can imagine just how fast and furious the fire burns up energy!
Even if we’re not directly participating in a game, we generally have our favorites. And the longer we invest time in watching them, we’re assimilating them into our tribe. We like our tribe to achieve and win—it’s a very dog-eat-dog competitive world out there! If I don’t have a dog in the hunt, then I’ll only be present to appreciate athletes that are performing at the highest levels of their sport. In theory, the only folks that really have any skin in the game are the participants. Their performance is a direct result of their inherent gifts and the dedication they apply in preparing for their sport and specific games. But we also enjoy living vicariously through their achievements. Of course that investment comes with a cost when they lose. One writer noted that cost hurts. It’s supposed to hurt if it means something.
In the final analysis, the players are the only ones that really know if they’ve performed at their very best in a game. Many times we are not aware that they are playing through injuries or personal struggles. I remember a state tennis tournament game with my doubles partner during our senior year of high school. We came up against the coach’s son and his playing partner and we were soundly beaten. I played the best game of my life that sunny day on K-State’s campus. Someone observing that game’s outcome might have easily concluded that we weren’t prepared. But I walked off the court knowing I had given it my best shot and everything I had in the tank. I still remember the day--not in a bad way, but a good way. That game was a life lesson that has stayed with me long after I forgot the score. I know that gutsy comeback will stay with those players long after the sting of the loss.
After all, the things that really matter in my life continue on long after the fading memory of events that have no direct bearing on my life. I can rant and rave, jump up and down, raise my blood pressure and disturb the neighbors, but it absolutely has no bearing on the game on the other side of the television screen, unless perhaps I’m at the game supporting the players. It just elevates or lowers my attitude for a while. And if a player knows inside that he gave it his best shot, he’s a winner in my book. That still counts for something.