So, it’s been a few days since the UVA Men’s Basketball team won the national championship. And I’ve been thinking about what is so appealing, so intriguing, and frankly, so addictive about rooting for and following this team.
I’ve heard all the arguments about how they’re bad for college basketball- their pace and style of play won’t engage the casual fan; defense is boring; it’s like watching paint dry; they just waste the shot clock and wear you down; etc.
Well this morning I played in my normal 6am Tuesday/Thursday game, and it hit me. I’m not the star of my pick-up group. With mostly thirty-somethings, a handful of twenty-somethings, and a third of us in our forties and even fifties, I’m decent; I can hold my own in most games. But I know I’m usually one of the last ones picked on a team. Despite that, I can set a pick, I can box out my man, I can make a pass, I can (mostly) keep myself between the guy I’m guarding and the hoop. And that’s what I realized- that doing those small things, those things that I can do, that’s what I can contribute. That’s what I have to offer, and it takes all five guys on the team to score and maybe even win a silly early morning pick-up game. I can let others score, because there are plenty of others who are tons better than me at that. I can let others block shots or shut down the other team’s top scorer. I can let others run out on fast breaks and finish at the rim. Doing my part and letting others do theirs are what’s best for my team. We aren’t all blessed with phenomenal shooting skills, or jumping abilities, or cat-like reflexes. Just a handful are, but we all have something to offer.
Whether in our jobs, in our families, in our communities, or in our places of worship, we all want to contribute to a team effort. We want to be connected to something successful. We want to offer what we can for the good of all. We want to add our little piece, contribute what we can, and work hard at something together with others.
This UVA basketball team epitomized all that. The name on the front of their jerseys (Virginia) was a hundred times more important than the name on the back (their last names). They did the little things. They knew their roles. They knew their limitations. They knew their capabilities. They knew the sum was greater than the parts. They knew that individually they could go fast, but together they could go far. And boy, did they go far this year.