Those Brave Enough to Enter the Arena

Heart, soul and determination aren’t words or emotions reserved only for the victor. Those words aptly describe the Clemson Basketball team.

Sometimes this band of brothers must feel they are under siege and yes, make no mistake, they are. Sports can be ruthless. I have used this quote before and honestly, Teddy Roosevelt said it best, about the essence of everything noble in sports and life.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I’m sure, the agony of playing hard, leaving every drop of heart you possess in the arena in defeat has to be crushing but there are things of more worth, more to be learned than the outcome of any contest.

This basketball team has been like an out of control rollercoaster, up, down and all around. Winning games they shouldn’t have and losing games, quite honestly, they should have won.

Fans, longterm, devoted Clemson fans, know this pattern well, it’s on display almost yearly. However, make no mistake, any young man and/or young woman that proudly wears the Paw in the arena are the ones that matter here, not fans. The sarcasm, the criticism of those keyboard experts on fansites, the writing of scathing articles (several by yours truly) that question the leadership, the coaching and the direction of this team, pale in comparison where these young folks are concerned.

Sure, all that’s part of the game but never assume this team has no pride. Absent the overall record, 14-15, all should be impressed with this team’s courage, effort, devotion to each other and a sense of pride, even after getting punched in the gut. They pull themselves up, brush themselves off and return to stand toe-to-toe with each foe and continue giving everything.

Yes, they, not onlookers, are in the only place that matters. That place, the arena, where only one emerges victorious but both can leave as winners. To know that there is little shame when you give your all each and every outing. What men, what warriors, what effort. Thanks to those souls brave enough the enter into the arena.

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