We can learn life lessons from the basketball court.
SPORTS events can be like group therapy sessions. Remember the 2016 World Series between two underdog teams that proved the perfect balm to an extraordinarily toxic presidential race?
Such sporting magic is even sweeter when it’s homegrown here in the Pacific Northwest.
The UW women’s basketball team, led by the most prolific scorer in women’s NCAA history, Kelsey Plum, sparked the imaginations of girls — and set attendance records — with back-to-back trips to the March Madness tournament.
From the other side of the Cascades, Gonzaga rose to the pinnacle of college competition but fell just short on Monday of their first NCAA men’s basketball title.
While painful, the loss cannot overshadow the Zag’s rise from athletic obscurity to a national brand. The team’s ascension holds some life lessons.
Coach Mark Few, the folksy preacher’s son from Oregon, has talked about his teams “sawing wood” — diligent, steady practice for perfection. The team’s mammoth senior center, Przemek Karnowski, won more college games than any player in NCAA history after recovering from a near-catastrophic back injury.
The Zags have never been sanctioned for taking athletic or academic shortcuts. In contrast, the team that triumphed Monday, North Carolina, is being investigated for providing two decades of fake classes to athletes.
The phrase in sports is “winning right” — coaching college athletes for the rest of their life off the court, as UW football coach Chris Petersen has modeled.
Congratulations to the student athletes at UW and Gonzaga. They didn’t win the prize, but they played — and won — the right way.