This weekend was a doozy in men’s college basketball; six of the top ten ranked teams went down, most by what you could call almost-embarrassing performances. I watched almost all of these games at some point in their airing, and the one thing that kept coming to mind is; where is the heart?
Just to give you a little quick background as to where I am coming from on this. I am 5’4”. I am by no means a stick figure, and I seriously doubt you would call me a body-builder. When I played high school basketball, I was the sixth or seventh person off the bench, I started my senior-night and that was about it. I did not start on my high-school softball team consistently until my sophomore year. When I went to college, I did not start immediately, I had to wait my turn and pay my dues. However, there was always something I could pull from that I felt gave me the edge over someone that was taller, stronger, or more talented than I was, heart. Where has that gone?
Watching many of these games almost all to their conclusions, I saw players laughing, with their team down by twenty. I saw players selfishly taking shots that were not in the realm of their skill set or ignoring a wide-open teammate. I saw defeat on players faces long before the buzzer sounded being down only a possession. There are a lot of things that I think contribute to this and will probably be argued about for years to come, AAU regulations, NBA entrance qualifications, and college requirements, to name a few.
There are many ways to looks at these loses and most of it can be chalked up to the madness that is college basketball, but I also see a very disturbing trend and one that may ruin the sport itself and that is the drive, want and heart to be there. In an age where the elite players are only going to college because they have to meet the requirements of the NBA draft, is it necessary that they do well? Does their team have to win a championship for that to happen? Since 2000 there has only been, one person drafted number one overall that won a national championship in the same year, Anthony Davis in 2012 with Kentucky.
What does this all mean? Does it mean kids will be kids? Does the old saying of, they are just learning still apply? I believe there is more going on than any of these broadcasters, sports analysts, or even coaches want to admit. The me, me, me generation are all about themselves and trying to get these kids to care about one another, a team, a university or a fan base is harder than it was even ten years ago. I do not see a change coming any time soon and I think the passion for the game is shifting. There used to be some nostalgia for me watching and hoping for magical things to happen to great teams. And don’t get me wrong those things do happen in March, but look at all the so-called top-ranked teams in the tournament that don’t make it that far. What was missing? In my opinion it was heart, it was the drive to win for the person next to you, it was carrying the hopes of an entire university/college/fan base on your shoulders and doing the impossible. You cannot do that without heart and the help of your teammates and your coach. To think that you are bigger than the game is selfish and will lead to bigger disappointments down the line. I just hope some of these teams find that heart, whether it be in a shared experience as a team, a player stepping up and not allowing their team to slack off anymore, or a coach calling for everyone to look deeper. For all of us spectators out here, I hope all these teams find that heart, because it only makes for a more incredible month of madness.