Monday, March 25, 2013

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles and The Leadership We Wish President Obama Would Give

'Andy! Andy! Andy!'
Anyone in this nation who is not pulling for the Florida Gulf Coast Basketball Eagles coached by Andy Enfield to win the NCAA Championship just ain't much of an American, don't you agree?

We are ardent and rabid at times Duke and Carolina basketball fans. Why not? 25% of all the titles won by any team in the last 31 years have come from those two fine universities in the Research Triangle.

The most exciting one of all came from the 1983 NC State Wolfpack under Jim Valvano so the Triangle has seen it all. You have to see ESPN's great 30-for-30 offering, 'Survive and Advance' about that team and Coach Valvano's fight against cancer. If you can watch it in its entirety without laughing and crying your tail off, go to your local infirmary and check in...because you are not human.

Most exciting of all...until now, that is. The Vaunted FGCU Eagles have taken the cake by becoming the first #15 seed to ever make it to the Sweet Sixteen. The way they are playing with reckless but controlled abandon and sheer joy make it hard to believe they can't beat Florida or Kansas or Duke or Louisville and become the college version of Hickory High School in the movie 'Hoosiers' as the tiny school that slayed all the giants to win the Big Game.

There was something we noticed about the FGCU team last night that we think serves as a great lesson for all of our elective leaders including President Barack Obama in the White House. Did you notice it in the post-game celebrations where water was sprayed and shaken all over the locker room?

The players all started chanting: 'Andy! Andy! Andy!'

No, 'Andy' was not their leading scorer or rebounder or assist-maker.  No, 'Andy' is their head coach, Andy Enfield who has quite a life story of his own but we don't have time to recount it all for you right now but you can read all about it here.

Can you imagine a blue-blood team circling their coach and chanting: 'Roy! Roy! Roy!' or 'Krzyzewski! Krzyzewski! Krzyzewski!' (ok, we know that is a mouthful but you get our point)

Why do we bring this up?

Because nations, like basketball teams, need to believe in their leaders. When nations buy into what their Presidents and leaders are saying and, more importantly, 'doing', they can do extraordinary things.

Such as George Washington for example. He could have been king for life. Instead, like his hero, Cincinnatus of Roman days, he resigned his commission as leader of the nation to retire to his farm to live out his days in peace after serving his nation with honor and dignity.

Take a look at this eulogy about George Washington in 1799, about 3 years after he retired as the only unanimously-elected President we have had:
'First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen, he was second to none in humble and enduring scenes of private life. 
Pious, just humane, temperate, and sincere; uniform dignified, and commanding; his example was as edifying to all around him as were the effects of that example lasting correct throughout, vice shuddered in his presence and virtue always felt his fostering hand. 
The purity of his private charter gave effulgence to his public virtues. Such was the man for whom our nation morns.' - John Marshall, official eulogy of George Washington, delivered by Richard Henry Lee, December 26, 1799

Look at these FGCU Eagle basketball players; they are white, black, come from tough backgrounds and not so tough backgrounds. They have bought completely into the system their Coach Enfield has laid out for them.

They are having great fun doing it as well. They are bringing back the reason why we love college basketball in the first place. And no, it is not to see how many Diaper Dandies can come through your university and be a one-and-doner gone to the NBA. Who cares?

Don't you feel a tad bit cheated by our elected leaders right now? President Obama, as our Cheerleader-in-Chief and Head Coach 'owes' it to us all to be enthusiastic about everyone's abilities and talents and capabilities. Not just the people who voted for him.

Ya think Coach Enfield ever says something like this to his top players?
'You gotta stop scoring so many points, Sherwood Brown! And you, Bernard Thompson, you have gotta stop making so many dunks! You're making everyone else look bad! I want you to stop playing so hard but instead I want you to pass the ball to the guys I am going to put in off the bench who are walk-ons from the JV team.  I am sure we will win that way.'
This is where President Obama has completely missed the boat in terms of inspiring confidence and exuberance on the part of the American people. He thinks that everyone is dragged down the more the best players such as Brown and Thompson and Comer play.

He is dead wrong. We ALL do better when our very best and talented people do well. When Bill Gates starts Microsoft, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people get jobs and build wealth and lead better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.

Should the Eagles of FGCU win the national title, even those walk-ons who never play in games will win a ring they can wear for the rest of their lives and show everyone they were part of the 'Miracle Eagles of Florida Gulf Coast-2013'! That is what happens when teams led by charismatic leaders and talented players win in any walk of life.

Pull for Florida Gulf Coast University basketball team to win the whole thing this year, even if you are a Duke or Carolina fan.  Maybe President Obama will notice how the Eagles did it with hard work, determination and enthusiasm since he spent more time getting his brackets ready instead of introducing his budget on time.

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