I got the pleasant surprise of my life last weekend when I heard that Florida Gulf Coast University (where I recently earned my MBA) was not only in the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, but that they had advanced into the Sweet Sixteen! Not to pat myself on the back or anything (especially since I didn’t even bother filling out a tournament bracket this year), as I mentioned in a previous post, FGCU’s basketball program is one that every student and alum should be proud of. Oh, and I also admit that I’m glad that my previously unheard of school, which is prominently listed on my resume, is now a household name.
But what if you are not a student, alumni, or employee of FGCU? What if you have no ties to Southwest Florida, or you are not even a [college] basketball fan? Well, you may still want to cheer for FGCU in this year’s tournament. Here are 6 reasons why:
1) FGCU plays basketball like they’re having fun. I’m sure that winning your games makes this easier. But it also has a lot to do with how they execute their game, and interact with their competitors, the fans, and even the media. This is college after all. Unfortunately today, with all the big money in college sports, college athletes are carrying around a lot of undue stress. For now, the FGCU doesn’t have to deal with this. And it shows.
2) They keep things interesting. Sure, they broke everyone’s tournament bracket. However, if life played out the way that you expected it to all the time, it would be a pretty boring journey.
3) It’s nice to see the underdog have their day. FGCU has been touted as the “Cinderella story” of the tournament this year. And who doesn’t like a story where an ordinary person is in the running to win the ultimate prize.
4) FGCU is the new kid on the block. Unlike the run for the NCAA football national champion, the NCAA basketball tournament provides a clear picture of who the national champion is and just what they did to get there. And it’s all about doing; not about brand name and history. If you win games in the post-season…you move on. Simple as that. This is FGCU’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament. Can you imagine how amazing it must feel to not only be making your first appearance, but be kicking butt too?
5) Hey, those White guys can jump! Sorry to bring race into it, but hey, the issue of reverse racism has already been discussed at length in relation to the NBA. Let’s not turn a blind eye to the college crowd. While I could care less about quotas or who has a mostly Black team vs. a mostly White team; it would be nice to see more non-Black professional basketball players as household names. And no, I’m not saying this as a Black woman who is turning her back on her people. Rather I’m thinking about all the young White (and Asian, and Latino) boys out there who want to play amazing basketball. They need to see that it is ability and skills, not race that gives you a chance in the sport. Chase Fieler & Co. has proven that firsthand.
6) The team shows that it pays off big to keep trying. If you watch FGCU in the tournament, they do not play like a team that lost twice to unranked Lipscomb, that held walk-on tryouts in October of last year, and lost their “star” players from the previous season has transferred out. And Eddie Murray and the previously mentioned Mr. Fieler were two very unremarkable players. So what happened? Well they had a great coach/teacher in Andy Enfield…but more importantly they just kept working at their game. Having a great mentor/teacher/coach is a good start, but you have to have the desire to want to continuously improve if you want eventual success.
So I’ll be cheering for my Eagles to take down the Florida Gators tomorrow. Even if they don’t win, they’ve made one heck of an accomplishment here, and I’ll be looking out for them in the tournament in 2014! Go Eagles!