As the nation watched the Auburn Tigers play for a shot at the NCAA National Championship on Saturday night, many were let down as the Tigers were knocked off at the buzzer by favored Virginia.
As the cameras panned the Tigers bench after the team lost one of the most important games in school history, many thoughts raced through my mind, the main one being how the players must feel.
Auburn is known for football and the many great Iron Bowl games. The Tigers are also known for the multiple National Championship titles that have been produced within the football program.
However, the school’s basketball team has never won a national championship.
The Tigers excited the nation with their thrilling defeats of North Carolina and Kentucky, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an underdog story?
I wonder now that Auburn has been knocked out, will anyone remember that the Tigers made school history?
Who would be there to support these guys after a tough loss such as this?
These guys are still just young men, young men who showed the nation, after the loss, the meanings of the words “sportsmanship” and “honor.”
While many fans were pointing fingers at the referees, Auburn congratulated their opponents and thanked the referees for the hard work they had done during the game.
Auburn pointed no fingers.
At that moment, it became crystal clear that these young men had the positive support that they needed.
The coaches were able to instill within these guys more than the game of basketball. They also instilled respect, faith, honesty and, above all, honor — the most crucial trait one person can demonstrate. Honor is what carries a person through all of life’s day-to-day activities and events.
Auburn sent a more powerful message than even a championship win would have.
The Tigers players showed the nation how honorable people and players should conduct themselves. Hopes of a championship may have been lost, but a positive example for millions was gained.
The traits displayed following the loss by Auburn’s players and coaches should be a model for every sports team in the nation.
Clearly, there was debate on the loss, but the Tigers handled it with understanding and gave the higher glory to God. They were just thankful for having been a part of the national championship picture.
If every team, in every sport, in every country acted in the manner that Auburn did, everything would improve. Coaching, officiating and game-calling would all possibly be changed for the better.
Certainly, the team was not happy with the results of the Virginia game, but they never showed defeat. Instead they chose to present an honorable team and coaching staff.
They represented the state of Alabama well and helped instill, at least in my mind, that not all examples of honor are becoming lost in the sports world. A team could go all season without winning a game and be highly respected and loved just by the way that team carries itself.
As a player, become better. Trust in God and keep honor within your life.
Honor and faith will carry you to the highest of mountains.
It may not always be the mountain that you set out to climb, but it will be the one that you were destined to reach.