The last several days have made me feel better about sports than I’ve felt in a long time thanks, in part, to the NCAA tournament.
I saw winners like players of Kentucky and Iowa State jumping for joy and hugging each other instead of pounding their own chests and tugging their own jerseys. How about the pure joy of the Mercer coaches and players and the class shown by Coach Billy Donovan and his Gators? Those are just a few of the examples.
The losers deserve recognition as well.
I saw losers like the players of Gonzaga shedding honest tears.
I saw losers like Duke Coach K and North Carolina Coach Roy Williams display class in defeat. Coach K visited the Mercer locker room and congratulated the coaches and players for deserving to win. Williams defended the officials who made a tough call at the end to keep the Tar Heels from having a chance to win.
The Wichita State coaches and players saw their perfect season end with a loss to Kentucky, but even in such a devastating moment they shined. There were no poor-loser tantrums. Sadness and tears, yes, but they bowed out with their heads held high for a great season and with praise for the Wildcats.
“Me” was nowhere to be found. In victory or defeat it was about “Us” and “Them”.
It was so refreshing in this look-at-me age of sports.
The good feeling even reached over to the PGA Tour. If you saw the honest and heartfelt tears of Matt Every you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Every, a Gator alumnus and Jacksonville Beach resident, won the Arnold Palmer Invitational for his first Tour victory. It was a tournament he attended as a child and dreamed of winning.
In his interviews afterwards tears trickled down his face and he could hardly speak, clearly overwhelmed with the joy of the moment.
Indeed, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat and true spirit of athletic competition were never better displayed than they were during the last several days.
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