When we think about competition, we usually think about winning. On Facebook, the statuses I read usually celebrate a child’s success. It would be unusual to see the defeats.
I don’t blame parents for neglecting the negative; it’s what we normally do. Banners are for champions. The Lucite trophy sitting next to my stuffed animals proclaims me the 2004 .hack world champion, not 37th place. For the vast majority of teams, and the vast majority of players, the competition ends in a loss. And for all of us, waking up, well, that ends too.
Occasionally, though, a small part of life doesn’t turn out that way. For instance, I routinely ask married couples about their engagement, and ceremony, and honeymoon. Not defeats. There are champions, too. Last year, about this time, I hoped for a championship that didn’t happen. In the aftermath, I wrote a thank you note to the Butler Bulldogs. Three inches away on the backboard from a fantastic victory, Gordon Hayward was. In terms of wrist position, 0.13 inches. As Kyle Whelliston wrote, “An eighth of an inch, and they’d have won for all of us, and we’d have all had our parade. On a computer screen, which has a graphic resolution of 72 dots per inch, 0.13 inches translates to eight pixels. . . . That’s how far we all were from our parade: the width of a tear.” You should go read his work, because he talks about the emotion better than me. I have developed the calmness of a statistician, that events exist and I have little power to change them. Also, I had little personal interest in Butler, just as a foil, while for him, it’s more or less his soul. Different feel.
I have a little more interest today, another opportunity to see how the road ends. My current employer, Bellarmine University, has advanced its men’s basketball team to the Division II final today at 1 PM. Division II is still a pay division, which I still really, really dislike. (More on that once I’m no longer under contract.) At the same time, these events are our best opportunity to see how the story ends. So I took it. It’s 11:40 AM, I’m in the Hartford Airport US Airways Club, and I need to go pick up a rental car and drive to the arena. In less than four hours, for either the Knights of Bellarmine or the Seasiders of BYU Hawaii, it will end in a loss. We shall see what transpires.