Wednesday, April 7, 2010

When a Moral Victory Becomes the Greatest Victory

I don’t know about you, but I’m still hung-over from the week that I just had and that NCAA National Championship game. It was the best week I’ve ever had and the worst week that I ever had.

You can’t have joy without sorrow/pain (a wise soul told me that). So be it, but it’s how you handle it that determines your character, your legacy. Butler University head coach Brad Stevens and our magnificent men’s basketball team taught us that, if nothing else, over the past few days.

But before I get ahead of myself with all of that deep reflection let me just speak briefly about the week itself and the schedule I kept. I cannot even begin to exhaustively list all of my experiences and media appearances. Just know that they were extensive and plentiful, highlighted by…

-Sitting on the court following the Butler/MSU semi-final, just owning it, while CBS concluded its coverage of that game. (see: www.flickr.com/butlerblue2)

-Sitting on the lap of CBS Sports analyst, Seth Davis, during their semi-final pre-game coverage alongside Greg Gumbel and Greg Anthony. (see: www.flickr.com/butlerblue2)

-Appearing on the Bob & Tom Show and licking the Miller High Life guy’s face.

-Meeting Peyton Manning at the National Championship game. (see: www.flickr.com/butlerblue2)

-Having my mug in The Indianapolis Star, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal, among countless other newspapers, all in one day.

-Tearing up a Michigan State Spartans hat on the CBS Early Show.

-Appearing in CBS’ “One Shining Moment” following the National Championship game.

-Being on the court during player introductions for both the semi-final and championship games; just like back at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

-My spa treatment at Good Dog Hotel & Spa in Broad Ripple.

-Staying at a hotel.

-A police escort.

-Watching members of the media act like normal fans while waiting in line to get their picture taken with me. (see: www.flickr.com/butlerblue2)

-Representing Butler on the biggest stage ever in the school’s 155-year history. I will always be THE Bulldog to have represented Butler in its first-ever Final Four and National Championship game.

There was just so much more than the baker’s dozen listed above which reminds me, if you aren’t following me on Twitter or at least checking in on my Twitter feed on a daily basis, you’re missing out! You can find that here: www.Twitter.com/ButlerBlue2.

What is amazing is that before the NCAA Tournament started I probably had a little over 1,000 Twitter followers. Today I have north of 1,700!

You might also want to check out my Flickr photostream at www.Flickr.com/ButlerBlue2 which chronicles my adventures from the week or so. The interesting fact there is that my Flickr photostream has garnered more than 9,000 views on each of the last two days. Staggering.

But it’s not all about me, no, credit goes to the men’s basketball team and their coaching staff for making it all possible. Without them, I’m just another English Bulldog who happens to be a mascot. Today, I’m Butler Blue II, the cute bulldog mascot of Butler University.

My face and my name aren’t just recognized these days, but they are now synonymous with “Butler University.” That was always the goal, but America finally got the message loud and clear over the last few days. Coach Stevens, his staff, and his team delivered that message. Thank you, gentlemen!

You know, I’m just a dog, but again, I was heart-broken over that loss. With around 13 seconds to go, I thought victory was ours. My Bulldogs had found a way to win all season. I had no reason to believe that they wouldn’t this time either.

When Gordon Hayward’s last shot didn’t go in, I was whisked off of the court and taken behind the scenes and out of harms way. My dad tried to get a rise out of me. I wasn’t talking. I was tired, I was hurt, and I was mad. As a dog, I felt the collective hopes, dreams, and positive energy being sucked out of Lucas Oil Stadium faster than a Shelvin Mack scoring run.

As my dad described it to Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated, I was “stone cold.”

I’m a dog and most things just roll right off my back. There’s not much a treat and a new toy won’t fix, but this one stung.

My biggest question at that moment, “What am I supposed to learn from this?” I mean, I already knew that life wasn’t fair, but this just seemed offensive.

So in the last 24-48 hours I’ve been looking for answers. I realize they all won’t come immediately, but there is something that is becoming very clear as I remove the layers of Butler insulation and begin seeing the world through fresh canine eyes.

In my doggy wisdom, it's becoming evident to me that in the championship game, Duke won the contest to score as many points as possible in 40 minutes. They got a nice trophy for that. But it was Butler that actually won the overall affair.

I mean, the President of the United States of America never calls the losing team and nor does the losing coach get interviews on the Late Show with David Letterman. Those things just don’t happen.

Outside of a small pocket of folks in North Carolina and the Duke alumni across the world, I don’t think anyone else even cares that Duke won that game. The media coverage since the final buzzer sounded confirms that notion.

I almost feel kind of bad for Duke, but not really. Congrats to those guys. That’s a great program, with great talent and they certainly earned the title, but I guess I’m not sorry that they never got the spotlight that is typically reserved for champions. No, that light is shining bright on Butler’s campus these days.

Watch out, I’m going to get real metaphoric on you now, but, I think that beam shining on campus is merely a reflection of the light our team used to illuminate the sort of ideals and actions we’ve come to know as “The Butler Way.”

Gordon Hayward’s last-second half-court shot didn’t need to go in for our team and our university to be considered champions. By that point, that goal had already been accomplished and it almost had nothing to do with basketball at that time.

When there were just about 13 seconds to go in the game, I really did think victory was ours. Little did I know, it already was.

Go Dawgs!

Blue II

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Awesome post Blue. Thank your dad for making sure that you were a 'media hound' and everyone knows who our mascot is!

Anonymous said...

Go Blue II! Many of us have adopted you as our 2nd favorite mascot down here in Georgia Bulldog country!!

Bash said...

Blue, you're not only adorable, but you are one wise bulldog, indeed. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

Aibrean's Musings said...

Thanks, Blue, for your tireless effort too! We love the team, but we love YOU too! Great job!
Lisa from Clowes

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! We have loved reading about you and seeing you in all the newspapers around the state too!
Hope to see you at the Annual Spring Blue and White game next Saturday the 17th at 10 a.m. The football dawgs are ready to have you lead them out the tunnel!!

Anonymous said...

BlueII, you rock!! The webblog is so neat! Butler didn't 'lose' the game, we won big, because of you! See you next year, fast dog! :)