The Downside Of Being In the Inner Ring

I feel some sort of pity for the social media teams of college teams when it comes to their sports teams. I cannot imagine that such jobs are very highly paid, or that the people who have them are the best at their game, and yet when one’s team is having its worst moments, those are the people who have to deal with the harshest of internet trolls picking on people when they are down. Today, at least one of those people getting raked over the coals is the person in charge of dealing with social media at Purdue University, which today became only the second ever #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament to lose to a 16-seed, when the Boilermakers were taken down by Farleigh Dickenson, a small New Jersey private university which won its conference tournament on a technicality when the school that actually won was ineligible for postseason play because it was in an ongoing transition from Division II to Division I.

It is not my intent to talk about college basketball primarily in this post. Nevertheless, when we see a team that is highly regarded as Purdue is–it is regularly among the best regular season teams in the big 10, but just as regularly struggles in the biggest games in the NCAA Tournament, having lost four straight years to double-digit seeds–we ought to ponder what it is that people think they see in such a team versus what they actually get. Farleigh Dickenson is obviously not in the inner circle of college basketball, and Purdue is. And yet Purdue has among the most embarrassing losses ever to take place in the NCAA tournament, a historic defeat, while Farleigh Dickenson has won its second game in a row and has similarly secured a place in history as a team that has accomplished what is considered to be nearly impossible. Ultimately, as long as there is at least some sort of genuine competition, the underdog always has a chance against those who are favored.

In seeing frauds on the basketball court, one is reminded that frauds are all over the place in a world like our own. Everywhere you look, one can see people trying to show the appeal of being in the inner ring. But there is a downside to it as well. When you are an outsider, you know you are an outsider, you know that you are not going to get the benefit of the doubt nor do you expect other people to save you from your own problems. When you are in the inner ring, your expectation is that if you have a bad day at the basketball court, the refs are going to bail you out, or if your bank makes terrible decisions, the Fed is going to bail you out even if you appealed for less restrictive regulation because you were not supposed to be a threat to the well-being of the economy. People can think that they are far smarter and far better than they are when they are being puffed up by the flattery of others in the in-crowd. Those who are on the outside only want a fair fight, and that is enough for them to prove themselves.

I remember hearing a sermon once about someone who had trained to be an amateur boxer from his father, and had entered the ring against someone and found to his surprise that his father had pulled his punches and so he was not ready for how hard the other person was hitting, leading to an embarrassing defeat and, presumably, an end to any interest in staying in the sport. What did it benefit the young man to be trained for boxing for years but have the punches pulled? He thought he was being prepared to become a successful boxer, when instead he was merely being protected, for a time, from the pain that boxers risk when they enter the ring. The very first time he entered the ring against someone who was there for a real fight, he got knocked out, because he wasn’t really ready for the fight and had been led into thinking that he was a better fighter and more prepared than he was. To be puffed up by supposed well-wishers is not doing one a favor. What is a favor is being prepared for reality and how to deal with it, though that is not something that is all that common in our present age.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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