David and Goliath, a Cinderella story, a can-you-believe-it game. Call them whatever you will, but upsets and stories of the smaller team grabbing the seemingly impossible victory is something that fuels the sports world and none are more frequent than during March Madness.
Now, while most people hate to see a massive upset during the NCAA basketball tournament and watch their brackets go from the greatest picks ever to a worthless piece of paper, the Cinderellas of March Madness are more than just entertaining, they’re fragments of hope for any smaller school looking to win big.
The smaller schools, the schools with a less than spectacular record, or maybe ones just barely missing out on the tournament see there is no truly dominate team in Division I and they can hope.
Take USD for instance. Most would agree the Coyotes are a ways away from being a Division I champion, but when teams like Morehead State can take down number four ranked Louisville or when Kansas can lose at the hands of the University of Northern Iowa, a glimmer of hope emerges for the Yotes. Maybe, just maybe, somewhere down the line, a David of a Coyote team will take down its Goliath.
And it isn’t just the basketball craziness of March in which upsets occur. Every sport has had its moment. From football to boxing, swimming to hockey, these sports stories show even though the other team may have the daunting record, bigger players, better equipment and Vegas odds backing them up, nothing is impossible.
Using the Coyotes again, when the Yotes faced the Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota earlier this fall, students gathered at the MUC and screamed in triumph as the Yotes, who most thought had no shot at victory, took home the win. Students and Vermillionites alike gathered at the Dome to celebrate their team coming home. One win, one upset, brought together a campus and a town in pride and jubilee.
In 1980, a group of amateur and collegiate hockey players gathered together for the USA Olympic hockey team. In a tumultuous time around the world, the Cold War took to the ice as the United States faced off against the Soviet Union in the medal round and ended with sportscaster Al Michaels saying his famous call, “Do you believe in miracles?…Yes!”
Team USA defeated a team considered the greatest in the world and gave back national pride to many Americans.
While March Madness might not inspire someone to run around the court draping the American flag around them while fans scream, “U-S-A,” the upsets and impossible victories for a school that will destroy many people’s brackets could bring pride and hope to schools that may not have much.
So this March season while you’re hunched over your bracket, crying as the team you were so sure was going to win it all loses at the buzzer, go ahead and rip that sheet to shreds.
But remember, perhaps somewhere out there, that one victory for the little guy, when the Cinderella makes it to the ball or David crushes his Goliath, could be inspiring your local team and paving the way for some future story of fairy tale magic.
Reach columnist Chris Jessen at Chris.Jessen@usd.edu