Kudos and congratulations to the Louisville Cardinals’ men’s basketball team for winning the NCAA National Championship on Monday night. They persevered in their game plan and in the end outscored my alma mater, the University of Michigan, in an upbeat and exciting final game.
My take-away? Sportuality is alive and well here in Michigan, in Louisville, and throughout sport…if only we’re willing to see it…to feel it…to live it. George Bernard Shaw said, “The real moment of success is not the one apparent to the crowd.” In my thinking, success in this entire season would be the ability of all teams to experience empathic joy, that is to refuse to compare or diminish ourselves in the presence of something beautiful, such as our own outstanding performance even when it results in a win by “the other” team. As I say in Sportuality: Finding Joy in the Games, “We actually become enriched when we are able to honestly congratulate the winners and share their joy of accomplishment.”
Being a Michigan athletic alumna, I anticipated what a national championship might mean for my dear campus, and as I watched the game with several vocal Michigan fans, I began to recall my own words, and to look at these two teams with the respect of full seasons worth of work, dedication, commitment, and sacrifice. I will often say “it was a great game if you didn’t care who won.” Keeping this in mind, I saw Louisville and Michigan as co-conspirators in a greater dance of life – of sharing goals, of passion, of inspiration, faith, love, and yes….joy.
Sportuality is indeed alive and well in the NCAA. We saw it all: Competition, Community, Spirit, Communication, Enthusiasm, Humor, Education, Religion, Holiness, Sanctuary, Sacrifice, and in the end, Victory. Each of these words defined in the book has great meaning and purpose in shaping our thought about what we do together on the court – or on the field, or in the pool, or on a track. If we can change our mind toward empathic joy, the 2012-2013 basketball season can bring forth a greater spiritual understanding of sport and all it means for humanity. From the inspiration for a team because of a broken bone, to the victory of an underdog until the final, this was a rich experience.
And I can still say “Go Blue” with pride…while also congratulating Louisville. Well played, men. That said, there will be a whole new level of Sportuality if and when the Louisville women’s team wins the national championship tonight. Well played, women. Sportuality is alive and well always, in all ways!