This just in: Duke is done and Villanova is gone. And UVA, Florida State and and Louisville are all gone too. Oregon and North Carolina came back and held on and eeked out tough wins as they survived to sustain their stay at the Big Dance. And Michigan has now survived an aborted airplane takeoff and two fierce opponents as they continue to survive in March; they won, again, and now they’re on their way to the Sweet 16.
Wisconsin beat Villanova, and South Carolina dumped Duke, and they both won because they played one way: hard. Yes you need to play smart, but you still need to play hard. Duke’s topsy, turvy, up and down, in and out season came to an abrubt halt and a premature end when every thing they’ve done and been through finally caught up with them.
Carolina wasn’t soft or spongy or squishy or squashy. They were firm and fierce and dogged and determined. Likewise, in life we should play and live with heart and smarts and grit and mettle. And if your opponent plays hard, you just play harder.
That goes for players and coaches alike. While the players need to play hard, coaches need to work just as hard, and that’s what Frank Martin, coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks, did. He cried tears of joy after they defeated Duke, not because he’s soft, but because his players played hard, and I loved every tear.
So be strong. Be stout. Be sturdy. Play and live life one way: hard-nosed and thick skinned. The Urban Dictionary says that hard-nosed is “a tough, straightforward, take-no-prisoners way of carrying oneself. Hard-nosed people may not be sensitive or tactful, but they are gritty and tackle problems head-on.” Amen to that.
And when you’re thick skinned you’re not easily bothered by things and you don’t let your emotions drive the train. That’s my definition. When you’re down, you don’t get down. And when you’re up, you’re still temperate and tolerant. When you have thick skin, you may be passionate, but you’re not really all that emotionally moved or overly sensitive when things don’t go your way.
So don’t take things personally, i.e., “from a personal standpoint or according to your own particular nature or in a subjective rather than an objective way” (Urban Dictionary). Look at the big picture and have eternity in view, because in the end we know we win.
So let’s learn to live every day and every play with the end in mind. Because only the strong know how to play hard and play smart and survive and advance in the Big Dance of life.