At long last, the NCAA men's basketball tournament is here.
The strangest aspect of this annual event is not that it claims to crown a "national champion" of collegiate basketball. That has always been debatable. What is not debatable is that the NCAA tournament gathers 68 of the top teams and assures that 67 of them will end their year with a loss. The last memory that the majority of seniors on the teams will have is the sting of defeat.
We claim to watch the tournament as a validation of our picks in the ubiquitous bracket sheets we fill out with reckless abandon. I believe our real gut-based interest in watching the tournament is to see how success-targeted young men deal with an ultimate defeat. After all, dealing with failure in a positive manner is life's biggest lesson. None of us want to be failures in life, but the realists know that failure along the way is inevitable. Dealing with failure is a skill all need.
What bothers me about our world of team sports is the manner in which colleges take a losing season and use it as a basis for firing a coach or manager. It's as if they are placing blame for losing on the coach. They need to recognize that the leading cause of losing is winning. Losers are required for winners to exist. Sure, nobody wants to lose more than they win, but it happens.
A bigger test for me were I a college "decider" is whether or not the coach was successful in helping his players learn from losing. After all, even in this tournament, all but one will have a guaranteed loss.