Perhaps you saw it. Perhaps you did not.
When the University of Michigan men’s basketball team hit their improbable, last-second shot — shockingly sending the Wolverines into the so-called “Sweet 16” — pandemonium erupted on the court. As is often typical these days, the players and fans went a little, understandably crazy.
There was shock on both ends — in winning. And losing.
And then there was this, as depicted by Brian Smith, for www.AthletesInAction.com:
“… As Houston’s Cory Davis watched in disbelief along the sideline, he was met by an unlikely visitor. Mo Wagner, a forward for the Wolverines known for his grit and sometimes chippy play, stopped pursuing the chaos and momentarily reengaged his opponent.
The moment is worth championing on multiple levels.
God created us to celebrate when things go well. It completes the experience. To neglect the opportunity to celebrate would leave us feeling like we had one final piece of a puzzle that we just decided not to fit into place. There is nothing wrong with the rest of the Wolverines chasing each other around the court. You can even see Wagner start the celebration process.
But then he presses pause. Why?
I have no idea. I can guess, but ultimately, I don’t know why he stopped.
That’s a large reason why this moment was so beautiful. It was not normal or expected. It was not scripted. You can tell from Wagner’s body language that he did not start running with the intention of stopping to chat with Davis. It certainly wasn’t to mock Davis.
Something more like competitive empathy. Athletic respect toward a fellow player who competed at a high level and helped bring out everyone’s best. Understanding born out of his own experience with losing. A genuine compassion extended to the vanquished — perhaps out of relief that he wasn’t having to suffer the emotions that come with Davis’ fate. A simple display of class. Whatever — it was something worth noticing.
March Madness never fails to deliver memorable moments. The Cinderella stories, unlikely comebacks, and buzzer beaters will always make ESPN headlines.
But moments like these make sports so captivating for us. Against the backdrop of the Madness, snapshots of compassion and empathy continue to capture our attention — and keep us fixated to see what could potentially happen next.”
I’m reminded of a previous post penned last fall. It detailed the 14 warmup shirts worn by the Purdue men’s basketball team this season. Each wore a different word…
Isn’t it true? Against the backdrop of the madness, the above virtues capture our attention most. They last for more than one shining moment in time.