In my opinion the NCAA basketball tournament is the most exciting sporting event in the world. Of course the sport has lots of flaws. It is the championship of American college basketball. It is a tournament of 64 or 68 teams (depending on how you count). Its complicated how to count the teams. It is like the Stanley Cup playoffs if each series was a sudden death game. It is all over in 2 weeks. Wonderful.
This year I watched a number of games on television. I watched the University of North Carolina (“my team”) suffering a crushing defeat at the ands of the surprising Auburn team. My heart was broken.
Yet today I learned something valuable in the defeat. Roy Williams of the UNC team said in his interview after that game that he was proud of how his players had played even though they made 3 critical mistakes in the last couple of minutes. He said his players showed a lack of communication that caused the errors and this was his fault. “I did a poor job of coaching for not preparing them for the game.” Can you imagine that? He blamed himself for the poor performance of his team. He told his players he loved them and wished that he had been able to do more for them. What a class act!
I could not help but think that this was the opposite of the current President of the United States. When things go wrong he quickly throws someone else under the bus. Never himself. Trump has no class at all. Not a mite of class.
All of this was even more surprising because I had thought all year long that the UNC team was not as good as they seemed and that it was the best coaching year ever for Coach Roy Williams. I think he brought his team to play the best that they could play.
Modesty is becoming; bragging is not. This is a lesson that Trump would do well to learn.
I was also noticed during the game that a UNC player inadvertently bumped into one of his opponents so hard that he got injured and was out of the game. It was one of the best Auburn players and they had a narrow lead over UNC at the time. The UNC player tried to help the injured player and was clearly upset that he was injured. He had respectfor his fallen foe. The two were fierce competitors, but they competed against each other while respecting each other. Again this is something Donald Trump does not understand. He understands nothing like that. That is because, as I have said before, Trump has as much empathy as a Turnip.
We could all learn something from basketball. Winning is nice. In fact, winning is important. But winning is not everything. Empathy is more important. As is honour. As is respect. Respect for others and respect for self.
In another game during the tournament, I watched the University of Virginia defeat Auburn University in a very close contest that went into overtime. It was an extremely exciting game. It was very stressful for the players and their coaches. The winner would go on to the Final Four next week. The losers would go home defeated.
Yet the coach of the Virginia team, Tony Bennet, seemed very cool and calm as everyone else was going crazy. The coach has a motto: Calm is contagious. What an important lesson from basketball. This lesson could be important in many other areas too. We should all learn it.
There is a lot to be learned from basketball.