Monday, March 19, 2018

Heros and Goats

©Charles M. Schulz
There are two kinds of people in the world: heroes and goats. Just one of the many lessons I learned from Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang.

For the record, we're Michigan fans. That's The University of Michigan. We bleed maize and blue.

I never miss Michigan football. At just 13 per games per season (when we go to a bowl game), it's an easy commitment to make. I've always liked Michigan basketball (in theory), but freely admit that the season is just too long for me, with more than 30 games in the regular season and a bazillion tournament games.

But last year, our team nearly got blown off an airport runway and then went on to win the B1G (Big Ten) Championship, and I got sucked in. It was a great story. And then we won the B1G again this year, and that was just plain fun

Basketball is fun, at least college basketball, and March Madness is … mad. It's one of the few times in life when you feel like anything can happen. And, according to my brother, it usually does. The youth, the adrenaline, the superstitions, the speed of the game, all add up to a level of unpredictability that can change the momentum in a literal moment.

It's a time when a school no one has ever heard of—University of Maryland Baltimore County—becomes the trending hashtag #UMBC as the first ever 16 seed to beat a #1 team in the NCAA tournament

It's a time of upsets, broken records, Cinderella stories, and buzzer beaters.

It's a time when fans (even only sometimes fans, like me) are on the edge of their seats. I had a great time watching Michigan's buzzer beater against Houston last Friday night. It was particularly sweet because I got to watch it with my own Michigan junior, who came home for the weekend. We ran around the room cheering, like the team ran around the court after watching Jordan Poole arc that perfect winning three-pointer into the hoop at the last second.

The last two minutes of a basketball game are all that really matter (blasphemy, I know, but it's true). This was certainly true of the Michigan-Houston game. Watch those two minutes in the clip below and you can see the "hero", Jordan Poole and his winning shot. You can see the "goat", Houston's Devin Davis, miss his last two free throws, which should have won the game.

You may have already seen a clip of that shot. I wouldn't be surprised. It's been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

But have you seen this clip? Maybe not. These seven seconds were caught by Jeffrey Parsons just a few seconds after the buzzer beater. Michigan's forward Mo Wagner stopped mid-celebration to console Houston's devastated Corey Davis, Jr. The photo at the top of the article shows Wagner giving a conciliatory pat to Devin Davis—the guy who missed the free throws.

Or how about this one, University of Virginia coach Tony Bennett, who could have been the goat after his team's historic loss.

Everyone wants to be the hero. Jordan Poole and his "overdose of swag" certainly does. He's practiced for it and that's great.

No one wants to be the goat. Certainly not Devin Davis, who has overcome a lot in his short life, and shouldn't get derailed for two missed free throws.

It's a world of heroes and goats. But I like the way Wagner and Bennett are redefining things for us. Maybe a hero is not just the guy who made the winning shot, but the guy who took a second to recognize another's pain. Maybe the goat is a hero in disguise, teaching us the most important life lessons.

Because everyone has the potentialities of a hero or a goat.

Because, despite what we see in the world, in politics, and in business—in life, it is how you play the game.


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great thoughts
Great writing.