Our website editor, Michele Hickford, really doesn’t like it when I write about sports. Now, Hickford is one super diver — master scuba instructor rated. So she’s not THAT bad, but she just doesn’t have that affinity many of us have for sports, especially for me, college football and basketball. (Editor’s note: Thanks boss. Glad to know I’m not THAT bad).
As you know, we are now in full swing during that very special time in America we call “March Madness.” I must admit when college basketball season ends, I go into a mini state of depression, until college football season kicks in…so I watch ESPN Classic.
But what Ms. Hickford and some others in America fail to realize is that March Madness is representative of the most fundamental difference between constitutional conservatives and progressive socialists.
Yes, there is a very appropriate lesson to be gleaned over these next few weeks. It all boils down to two philosophical differences: equality of opportunity versus equality of outcomes.
Tonight for March Madness, the NCAA college basketball tournament kicks off with the “play in” game — a new addition. The bottom line is that these schools — now 68 of them — fight to get an invitation to the Big Dance. And if you were watching CBS Sunday afternoon you saw the pure ecstatic response from so many schools to know they got their ticket punched.Take for example the Big Ten school from Evanston Illinois, Northwestern University. Northwestern is one of the great academic institutions in our country, but this year is the first time they’ve ever been invited to the NCAA tournament. These 68 teams will all enter into this arena of competition and they have all qualified to be there — no affirmative action. There’s no lowering of standards in order to allow you entry. The selection committee’s criteria is easily comprehensible and there are often very few disagreements with the selected fields — maybe some of the seeds, but not often the selectees.
There are four different regions and each region has 16 teams, after the two play-in games. The teams are seeded from 1-16 based on their achievements during the regular season as well as their final conference tournaments. And what’s great about the conference tournaments is that the favorite teams may not end up winning, because remember, it’s about equality of opportunity.
Take for instance the Big 12 conference tournament where everyone suspected the final game would be Kansas vs Baylor. Nah, they were both upset — Kansas by TCU and Baylor by my Masters alma mater, Kansas State. And the eventual winner of the Big 12 conference…wait for it, Iowa State.
Some may say it’s unfair to have a 16th seeded team take on the top seeded team in a specific region. Well, it doesn’t happen often, but ask Michigan State who was a number two seed and was upset by Middle Tennessee State, a number 15 seed. The beauty is that once that ball is thrown in the air for the opening tipoff, it’s all about who has the drive and determination, and skills to execute and win. We all cheer for the “little guy” who’s affectionately called “Cinderella” in the tournament.
In the recent past we’ve seen Florida Gulf Coast University, Wichita State, Butler, Davidson, Virginia Commonwealth, and others wear that slipper. We rise as they rise, and there’s just a little bit of us that’s sad when they lose. But they dared to endeavor to win, to compete. This is what life is all about — getting out and competing, not sitting back and awaiting a participation trophy.
In this first week, some of those schools will head home after that one game. But it doesn’t take away the achievement of making the dance. There is no “mercy rule” and no one sits back and redistributes points in order to have a more fair playing field. Nope, these young athletes realize that they’re champions in their own right, but there can only be that one champion.
And consider what it means — remember that great game last year when the young fella from Villanova came around the pick, took the ball and drained a three pointer with no time left on the clock? The emotional roller coaster was incredible for North Carolina who had just tied the game, with less than eight seconds to go. Even famed North Carolina alumni, Michael Jordan, was going nuts, only to have that Villanova Wildcat stick a dagger into his hopes of an overtime victory.
But, did North Carolina give up, did they ask for a participation trophy, did someone say, this was just too emotional of a loss and decide that the game should go to overtime? Nope. That’s life, and there are winners and losers.
But we should never quit, never give up. I love it when the progressive socialists whine about one-percenters.
Let me introduce you to the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, who are working on 110 straight victories, unmatched by any college basketball team. And championships, well, I think those women from Storrs Connecticut are seeking their seventh. Now, that is the pure definition of one-percenters.
So why does a state like Connecticut, which is a deep blue state, celebrate such dominance? Don’t they feel bad, shouldn’t the UCONN women give back, well, maybe at least three of those championships? It’s just not fair. And the left is all about fairness, fair share, so shouldn’t the UCONN women be excluded from this years Women’s NCAA tournament so someone else can win? That’s, fair right? After all, that’s what the folks in Connecticut vote for routinely.
Hey, I have an idea! Maybe no college or university from a state that voted for Hillary Clinton should be allowed to win the NCAA Men’s or Women’s basketball championship. Winning is not a trait the progressive socialist left embraces, so maybe they should have a separate conference where no score is kept and all the kids get a trophy at the end. After all, that’s what they believe.
I love March Madness. You want to win? It takes six games, not four, not five, but six games, and you’re crowned the 2017 NCAA Basketball champions and take your place in history. But what I admire most about the Big Dance is that every team entering has the equality of opportunity to win. That is the essence of life, of living in America.
We all have the inalienable right to pursue our happiness, and not sit on the bench waiting for someone to guarantee our happiness. We have to take the court and compete, and yes, there’s always that chance you’ll experience the sting of defeat.
But let me close with a very compelling quote that defines those men and women who partake in March Madness:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man [woman] who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” — President Theodore Roosevelt
Thanks Dr. Naismith for creating this American game. And let the Madness of the NCAA basketball tournament begin. But I pray the madness of progressive socialism and its insidious concept of equality of outcomes in America ends.