Once again we find ourselves in the greatest month of sports: March Madness. Year after year I find myself watching on-court battles between well-known teams, and teams that I've never heard of.
After spending several Marchs in front of a television, I have finally come to a conclusion about sports: I love the underdog.
If there is even the slightest chance that a no-name team can beat a powerhouse team, I am cheering for the no-namers like I've been a fan of theirs my whole life -- regardless of who my bracket would logically lead me to root for.
This year, in the first round of the tournament, we had several underdogs beat the odds. The University of Alabama Birmingham, a 14 seed, beat Iowa State, a 3 seed. Georgia State, also a 14 seed, beat 3 seeded BYU.
I was watching the Georgia State game with my sister. For those that don't know, the coach's son made the game winning shot with just 2.5 seconds left . When the shot went through the net, my sister and I erupted in cheers.
And it got me thinking, why do I root for the underdog?
I have always had a passion for the game of basketball, and at an athletic level, I know what it is like to go into a game where everyone is expecting you to lose. Regardless of how mentally tough one is, it's incredibly difficult to deter the impending negativity of others.
I also know what it's like to aspire to achieve greatness, even if I wasn't always willing to put in the work to realize those aspirations. Yet, there lies the difference between an average athlete, and a college athlete. They view the obstacles to their dreams as stepping stones, and understand that it will take hard work and several leaps of faith to get there.
Though, if the dream of a Division One athlete is to win a game in the NCAA tournament, it will take more than hard work. Some of the most dedicated athletes in the country will never play in the tournament, because they never received the opportunity. They, for one reason or another, never got invited to play on basketball's biggest stage.
But for those that finally receive a bid to play in the tournament, and enter an arena full of people that are expecting them to lose, and end up proving every last one of them wrong, while simultaneously proving to themselves what they already knew, well that's simply inspiring.
It is very easy to become discouraged in today's ultra-competitive world. My dreams are shared by thousands of others, and many of them surely have resumes that exceed the qualifications of my own.
But what Georgia State and UAB prove, is that dreams can be reached without having the best resume in the pile. There were plenty of teams that, statistically, would have been picked to give Iowa State and BYU a better game. However, I doubt any of them would have provided a more thrilling 40 minutes than what we watched -- because statistics on paper do not measure things like heart and passion.
As a college student, the future can be relatively depressing at times. We are told to work hard for a chance to achieve our dreams, and the "chance" part is scary. But for anyone that is truly passionate about something, just a chance is enough.
Nobody can guarantee us anything in our life. But then again, not having a guarantee is the thrilling part. Nobody can tell us we will accomplish our ambitious goals, in the same way nobody can say we won't. Ultimately, because we have that chance, we should be working hard each day to set ourselves up for success. Because one day, we might get a chance to showcase our talents on the big stage, proudly representing, and hopefully validating, the underdogs.