Mind Over Sports

Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Wolverines

I say no.  And here’s a good example.  While watching the Tennessee Vols vs. Michigan Wolverines game last night, Tennessee made a spectacular comeback after being down by double digit points at the half. And in the second half, with 6 seconds to go in the game, Tennessee had the ball and they were behind by just one point, 72-71, when the Vols’ Jarnell Stokes began a hard drive toward the basket.  Unfortunately, he was called for charging, when it actually appeared to me, and I’m sure many others, that it was a defensive foul.  Yet that one call by a single referee ended the Tennessee Vols season. It seems to me that in the NCAA post season tournament, during the last 60-seconds of a game, when a call is made by a ref, two of the three referees must agree that it was, in fact, a foul.  Or that it wasn’t a foul. That would take the game out of the hands of a single referee and require a majority-rule decision.  And one single referee would not be allowed to affect the season of an entire team.


The idea of excelling for a higher order originated with the legend of “win one for the Gipper.” It began in 1920 with the death of football legend George Gipp. Notre Dame’s first All-American selection who died at 25 from a strep throat infection. The Fighting Irish were 19-0-1 in his final 20 games. According to Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne, Gipp, on his deathbed, said: “Some time, Rock, when the team is up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go in there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock. But I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy.” Eight years passed before Rockne did so, before a 1928 game against unbeaten Army at Yankee Stadium. “This is the day, and you are the team,” Rockne said. The Fighting Irish scored two second-half touchdowns to win 12-6.

Athletes benefit by excelling for a higher order. In some situations they take on a cause to help an individual or group otherwise unassociated with the team. Though the coach’s motivations may not be pure in using this technique, there is a valuable by-product because the effort builds each player’s self-esteem, and thereby improves performance. The technique can work in team sports and in individual competition. And often it involves the memory of an individual. Or it can involve the injury of a team member. Such as Louisville’s Kevin Ware.

Coach Rick Pitino is using Kevin Ware’s injury in the same way Knute Rockne used George Gipp’s memory, and that’s one of the main reasons I’m predicting the Louisville Cardinals will be successful in defeating the Michigan Wolverines.

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