In my job search, I find myself in a similar spot over and over: Trying to adequately describe why I’ve chosen a career in college athletics. I enjoy the task in person – They can see my grin as I search for the words, hear my laugh as I recite an old game day story, and every occasion ends with them nodding with something like ‘It makes sense.’
Sometimes, finding the words is just plain difficult.
When the horn went off for Central Missouri’s Division II Men’s Basketball National Championship, I stood still. I wasn’t yelling, I wasn’t high-fiving or hugging someone – I just stood there. I watched the players and coaches I’ve come to know storm the floor in celebration. I turned to our ‘student section,’ filled with students bused in from eight hours away and Central Missouri Volleyball who had arrived from a tournament three hours away, and just laughed. I was in my first year as a paid employee in an Athletic Department standing on the court of a national title win. Spoiled, to say the least.
The other side is the fans who aren’t students – The elementary schools kids that our student-athletes visit for a readership program, faculty who have watched our student-athletes grow both on and off the field of play, and those in the community who haven’t missed a game in years. I still remember a promotion contestant from last year, Daryl, who had been a season-ticket holder for more than ten years. Daryl came down from the stands during halftime to try to putt the full length of the basketball court for a golf membership. He nailed it, we high-fived, people shouted in celebrating, and we walked back to the table where he told me that he hated golf. He’d end up giving the membership to his brother-in-law.
So why play? “It sounded like fun,” he had told me. “I figured why not – I hadn’t done anything like that before.”
This brings me to Mark Cuban’s post. You’ve got to take a few minutes to read it.
If I saw Daryl tomorrow and asked him what the score was from the game he putted, I’d bet he doesn’t know. On the other hand, he can -and does – tell anyone willing to listen about him going from “hating golf” to “putting in front of ten thousand people.” It wasn’t even half that, but who am I to rain on his parade?
I’m certain more than half of our student section at the championship game couldn’t tell you the final score of that game, but do you think any of them will soon forget the 16 hour round trip and the excitement when we won?
Not a chance.
That’s one, very small example of the kind of thing I love in sports. The atmosphere that brings together players, students, schools, and communities for hours at a time is incredible. It’s often indescribable. But that’s fine.
I wouldn’t have it any other way.