You don’t belong

Florida State is playing in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1993; it’s been a long time coming. They’re a #10 seed in this years NCAA tournament and that means that the selection committee felt that, of the 68 teams, 36 were more deserving than the ‘Noles. To make it this far they had to defeat a #7 seed in Texas A&M and a #2 seed in Notre Dame.

Their opponent in the round of 16 is Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), from Richmond, VA. The selection committee believed that at least 64 of the 68 teams were more deserving than the Rams, and analysts believed VCU was even more undeserving.

“I wonder whether some people on the committee know the balls round? That sounds harsh, but I’m wondering. These were bad decisions; they’re indefensible.” – Jay Bilas, ESPN college basketball analyst

VCU defeated Clemson, another team fighting to be 65th best, in the first round, then blasted the 6th seeded Georgetown Hoyas and derailed the 3rd seeded Purdue Boilermakers. (See, they have a big train as their logo and I said VCU derailed them, isn’t that witty?)

Do they belong now? Some say, “yes.” Others say, “no.”

I say, “I hope FSU goes Abraham on ’em!” (See, they are the Rams and Abraham has a famous ram slaying story. People get paid big bucks to come up with stuff like this)

FSU and VCU have both been underestimated. The ‘Noles and Rams had their imperfections hung out for all to see, like underwear on a clothesline. “They can’t shoot, they’re too small. they aren’t battle tested, etc.” It was easy to point out their flaws, so we did.

I’m not saying that their critics were inaccurate, they were. FSU was a terrible offensive team this year and VCU really wasn’t battle tested. That’s just not my point.

When we hear an insult, they are normally “accurate.” We make fun of people who are different that us. I’m tall so I might criticise a short person. If you’re thin, perhaps you’ve teased someone who was heavy. If you can see, maybe you’ve marginalized a blind person. Some have stood on their feet and looked down on someone sitting in a wheelchair. They are as “true” as FSU struggling to score, but are they defining?

I believe that we must not let the characters define us; we must let our character define us.

As observers of humanity, we get to choose what we use to describe and define others. Do you look for strengths or point out weaknesses?

There’s no denying that my sister uses a crutch, and sometimes a wheelchair. You wouldn’t be inaccurate to point out my son’s wheelchair or the drool on his chin. But, you’d be missing the point.

Our means of mobility, the clarity of our words, the strength of our backs, the quality of our vision, or quantity of our limbs do not define us. You can have four, healthy limbs, perfect vision, run marathons in under 6 hours, and be a professional orator… and still be a dishonest, jerk of a human being. Jerks use wheelchairs too.

We are all VCU. Were a team of analysts to get on national TV and pick our lives apart it wouldn’t be pleasant. But we can’t let the characters define us; we must let our character define us.

In the world of sports, a team’s “character” is defined in terms like chemistry, work ethic, heart, hustle, resiliency, and coachability. A team excelling in those areas can, and will, defeat a group of superior athletes who lack them.

Who would you prefer in your locker room? More importantly, how would you know who was who? I can tell you that Dwight Howard is a superfreak of an athlete, but I can’t tell you much about his character because I don’t know him.

I hope that we would take the time to get to know the people around us instead of determining that they don’t belong because they have an extra 21st chromosome.

Sports Nation has fallen in love with the Rams because we’ve gotten to know them, we’ve seen their tenacity and heart. We are rooting for the team that doesn’t belong… until they play FSU. Just being honest.

Who might you fall in love with? Is there someone on your perimeter who could become your best friend? Might there be a person to cherish who just needs a hunter to find them? Will you hunt? Will you?

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