One Big Thing
Coach Tony Bennett has the Cavaliers on top. A year after a historic defeat, Virginia came up with a historic victory Monday night. “It's a great story,” Bennett said. “That's probably the best way I can end this. It's a great story.”
The human spirit loves a story of redemption.
Since we all know how it feels to fall, and we all know how hard it is to get back up, I suspect we see our aspirational selves in others.
The most significant human achievements never follow a straight line; doing remarkable things the right way involves an uncomfortable level of risk, persistence, and grit.
By most modern basketball standards, UVA is slow, boring, and old-fashioned. They don't get Duke-level recruits or have UNC-level endorsements. Their players are not winning NBA MVPs or partying with celebrities.
But for what the program lacks in flair and style, they make up for in commitment and teamwork. They win because of culture.
In one year, this culture of accountability brought a group of teenagers back from an all-time humiliation – no #1 seed had ever lost to a #16 seed – to the top of their sport.
Y'know what needs more redemption?
The places that were gutted by automation. The places that have suffered most from the opioid epidemic. The places where kids are on track to make less than their parents. The places where fragility and despair thrive.
The places that are forsaken by those who have the luxury to opt-out.
One of the glories of sports is that, regardless of team loyalty or interest in a specific game, we can find a spark in the fall and rise of a bunch of young kids from Charlottesville, Virginia.
Imagine if we could find such redemption closer to home.