You are in the game, but enthusiasm not enough to succeed“I always turn to the sports section first. The sports page records people’s accomplishments; the front page has nothing but man’s failures.” -- Justice Earl Warren
The week just ended is my favorite sports week of the year. Some of you will say, "Nah, you got your calendar mixed up. Baseball season opened the previous week.” Of course, I could say, "but the home opener for the Giants was that week" and then you'd say, "OK, so you’re a big Giants fan. I get it."
A few of you may suspect that's not the reason. Not that I don't love the World Champion San Francisco Giants and all ... but honestly? That didn't even occur to me as I braced for the greatest sports week of the year.
There are a lot of reasons why I love this past week. For one thing, the contrasts are extraordinary. Unbridled enthusiasm, competitive zeal, office pools, no million dollar salaries … (except, er, the coaches) ... there's every kind of reason to love the adrenaline rush you get from amateur sports, even more so when college students excel at organized mayhem. See Stanford band, Cameron Crazies, et. al.
Contrast that with the subdued demeanor of a professional class of athletes as they excel in a stadium blessed with gorgeous weather, the bucolic lushness of azaleas and dogwood and a canopy of crystal blue sky.
Yes, I'm talking about Final Four basketball ... amateur collegians playing indoors on a smooth, shiny maple surface ... and The Masters ... cool professionals playing outdoors in God's luscious amphitheater. Tearing down the nets, donning the green jacket ... what a powerful contrast in so many ways.
Some of you will say that the college basketball players might as well be professional. They're coddled, spoiled, fawned upon and are likely the teacher's pet with special classroom privileges. Maybe in a few exceptional basketball power schools ... but Butler, VCU, Marquette, Richmond? ... some of the unheralded schools that made the Sweet Sixteen? ... not so much.
For the most part, the Final Four is comprised of 18 to 20-year-old collegians, playing a sport that kids of all ages and genders enjoy on concrete and hardwood across the land. For my money, no other sport transcends the infectious exuberance displayed by players and fans alike during March Madness. This year in particular, not a single #1 or #2 seed made it to the Final Four ... the first time that's ever happened. Everybody in the Big Dance had a turn on center stage with a crazy, unpredictable outcome that, once again, ended Butler’s Cinderella as the Connecticut Huskies won their third national championship.
Then there are the PGA tour professionals, who some would say are the poster boys of mollycoddling. Private jets, donated cars, deluxe accommodations, the works for most of them. No sweaty gyms and locker rooms, no rides on the beat-up school bus, no uniforms to wash.
I love both events for just what they are ... and in many ways; the vivid contrasts are a microcosm of the life cycle we experience in building a business.