I love the Meriones' post on CORE BELIEFS. It's a great distillation of what it means to be a Bruin, and why we love Coach Wooden, and CBH, and CRN. It made me get introspective, and ask questions like, why do I love Ucla basketball so much? and why does losing to Arizona bother me but not derail me like the WLBs 66 so eloquently referred to?
Personally I am not a typical Bruins Nation reader. Why?
- I'm not an avid sports fan. Throughout my life there are major periods where I don't watch sports. I really didn't go to the games in school. During the Lavin years I barely knew we had a basketball team and didn't care. I'm not a fairweather fan (didn't switch allegiances to another team) but just can't get excited about watching mediocrity, and prefer to go do something active myself.
- In addition to going to Ucla, I went to Duke. During the same era when they were on top. I don't hate the Blue Devils. I did (and do) root for them. As an academic institution my experience there was at least as good or better than the one at Ucla. But from a basketball perspective I follow it with less than 10% of the passion of Ucla. I don't hate Coach K (but I do not have nearly the respect for him as others, and agree wholeheartedly that he has become egotistical and is obsessed with whining about officiating).
But since CBH has come on, I've become an avid fan of Ucla sports. I watchh most of the games, read most of the commentary, listen to the coaches, etc. And CRN is helping me become a football fan too.
Why? I hadn't thought about it until Meriones' post. But on reflection I think it is because watching Ben Ball is a constant reminder of who I strive to be as a person, in every area of my life.
Think about the fundamental virtues that we hear about almost every week coming out of this team.
- Humility. Coach Howland is not arrogant. Ever. He does not have sites that label him as a "humanitarian." When he reaches out to members of the Bruin family who have a tragedy he doesn't talk about it -- he just does it. And what is more amazing, HE TRANSLATES THIS VIRTUE TO THE REST OF HIS TEAM. In watching college basketball pretty religiously for three or four years now, I am amazed at the contrast between our guys humility and the arrogant, self-aggrandizement that many other teams display (although SC certainly seems to be worse than most!)
- Class. I've never heard CBH denigrate an opponent. Either the team or the coach. I've heard opposing coaches cut us down. It was worse during our early years when clowns like Calipari got beat by us and said "we had a bad game." CBH always gives props to the other team, he's classy. Period.
- Patience. I can't imagine going from a perennial top ten team like he made Pitt and then having a losing season. I firmly believe that he could have not had a losing season but he would have compromised his long-term values and coaching philosophy. He did what was right, and waited.
- Defense. I actually think this is a virtue. How many areas of life relate to Meriones' CORE STRENGTH concept, where you have to do the dirty work but it makes you a better person? Defense is all about attention to detail. Period.
- Other People First. One of the most impressive virtues that CBH embodies is his consistent focus on doing what is right for his players over what is best for him (again, contrast the humanitarian, and others). Seriously, I have yet to see him not support a player.
- Pursuit of Excellence. Goes without saying.
I could of course go on and on and on about virtues that we see demonstrated by our team every single week. In victory. And frankly, IMHO, even more in defeat. I'd rather watch this team lose than a lucky Lavin team win. Because by watching our Bruin team led by CBH I'm reminded of these attributes that I try to live out. As a parent. As a business owner. As a friend. As a middle-aged basketball player.
I didn't hate the Trojans when I started reading Bruins Nation 3 years ago, but I can tell you that I hate their win at all costs push every rule in the book philosophy today. I'm a Blue Devil too, but Coach K doesn't evoke the same passion, because he doesn't embody these values so clearly. Frankly he doesn't evoke the same passion in the community as a whole -- go look at Blue Devil blogs and you'll find they aren't 10% of the participation that's here.
If this team loses, I support them. Because they live the values I live, because they're led by a great man, with great character. I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they are giving 100% energy and effort. It might not have showed in Arizona, but they're human, and overall they are doing their best.
Will it be good enough for a Pac-10 championship? Will it be good enough for a Final Four? Will it be good enough for a National Championship?
Frankly I don't care. Those results will come when they are meant to come, and I'm going to embody CBH's virtue of patience.