How good are you at picking winners? If you’re one of the 70 million Americans who filled out a bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, you probably have a sense of how hard it is to predict success.
I’ve been accused of too often writing about sports in this blog. I guess that’s because sports have been such a big part of my life as a participant, coach, and spectator—but also because I subscribe to the idea that sports imitate life. In sports, as in life, there is success and there is failure. And in sports, it’s often easy to see what leads to one or the other. Studying the actions that lead to either success or failure makes learning happen.
Last Thursday night, the Duke men’s basketball team lost its game in the NCAA tournament to the Arizona Wildcats, ending the Blue Devils’ season. Had Duke been able to win the game, its coach, Mike Krzyzewski, would have equaled Bobby Knight’s record for the most victories in college basketball history. Instead, Krzyzewski went home one win short, looking forward to next season when he will undoubtedly surpass his mentor’s record 902 wins.
The record that Krzyzewski will own is amazing in its own right. A 30-win season in college basketball is a great season. Krzyzewski already has won enough games to equal 30 of these great seasons. In addition, his teams have won their conference title 13 times, Krzyzewski has been named the national coach of the year 12 times, and his teams have won four national championships. Quite an impressive resume.
I saw a sign the other day that read, “Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want.” It sounded pretty true to me. Sure, you get experience when you succeed, but if you think about it, the truly valuable lessons are learned when we don’t get what we want.
This short line on the sign may have resonated with me more right now because of something that occurred last week. You see, my 13-year-old son didn’t make the eighth-grade basketball team. It’s not a life-altering event — unless you’re a 13-year-old boy. Then it’s absolutely huge.