That’s the Way

(Smashing Pumpkins version, not KC and the Sunshine Band)

I might have just solved one of the world’s great mysteries this morning–or at least one of the things that often crosses my mind–and I have WaPos Dan Steinberg to thank.

Dan writes today about some woman being tossed from American Idol and how she represents the Spurs. His assertion: she’s “too professional” and not what the competition is all about.

Now, I have no use for the NBA or Idol. Besides, I’m a Shear Genius guy anyway. (Can you believe they booted Pig Woman and the indescribably gay guy?)

Anyway, the blog entry made me think back to a philosophical conversation I had with Kyle Whelliston sometime towards the end of this past hoops season. We were talking about why people root for mid majors. Part of my belief was that as Americans, we root for the underdog, especially now that our country has become chock full of overdogs. Part of our fabric is that we want to struggle and strive and overcome because that’s how great things–truly great things–are accomplished. It is the pure “American Way” that has become lost over time.

In saying the San Antonio Spurs are too professional and thus not liked (21st in road NBA attendance, he quotes Michael Wilbon), Dan got me the rest of the way home.

We love mid majors for all my earlier reasons, plus the fact that mid major teams are fun and different and real. Think about Jim Larranaga and the number of times two years ago you thought “Coach K would never do that” or “Boeheim would never say that.” Think about how accessible the coach and the George Mason team was. They didn’t have the cadre of PR foofs and random staffers buffering them from the beauty of the event.

Think about this year and why the country jumped on VCU. The Rams’ style of play was so different and so fun and you could see the smiles on the players’ faces. You couldn’t help but to root for them because they were soaking up the experience and overcoming adversity. And loving it. They accomplished something very difficult to do these days: they forced you to care. To cheer.

George Mason’s approach to the NCAA tournament and VCUs specific defense were unplanned. Each assessed a situation and reacted. There is a purity in that we can all identify with. The contrast was how Connecticut walked into the Verizon Center last year and how Duke entered the HSBC Center this year: rehearsed.

Think about it this way: you remember Lamar Butler’s smile. You remember Eric Maynor’s scowl. You remember Larranaga’s words and VCUs trapping everywhere. They made you enjoy it because they did just that.

Now try to pick out Georgetown’s Jeff Green. Ray Felton? Conley Jr.? You only know AC Law because he’s left-handed. Heck, other than personal appearance give me the difference in Bill Self and Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim.

Not memorable faces. Not memorable styles. Not memorable people.

Too professional.

Overdogs.

Just like the NBA.

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~ by mglitos on May 17, 2007.

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