Passing the ball: Celebrating everyday sacrifices for the good of the team

We as a society celebrate athletic excellence: the last second shot, the game winning touchdown. We rarely celebrate the hard work and the behind-the-scenes steps leading up to the game-winning act.

The day after the Villanova University Wildcats won the NCAA National Championship over Goliath-like University of North Carolina, The New York Times detailed how Ryan Arcidiacono raced up the side of the court with less than five seconds with a plan in mind.

“He dribbled up the court thinking, ‘I’m going to shoot this!’ Then he took the ball — and passed it.”

Arcidiacono found teammate Kris Jenkins off by himself and passed the ball. Jenkins caught the ball and then let the ball fly in a perfect arch, swishing it through the net. Jenkins and the Wildcat faithful went wild, celebrating their first National Championship since 1985.

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Most people rightfully so touted Jenkins game-winning shot. If Jenkins put up an air-ball or clanked it off the side, the Philadelphia media, social media, and all the people talking about the game at work and at the gym would be talking about something altogether different. Jenkins should be celebrated.

However, I must admit that I’m a bigger fan of the smaller almost insignificant moves that led up to Jenkin’s shot, most importantly that Arcidiacono gave up his own chance for immortality, instead opting to pass the ball.

In short, I’m a fan of the team player: The player who finds the open shot, rather than shoots himself; the football player who gives himself up to block, opening up a whole for a teammate to score the winning touchdown; the baseball player who puts down a sacrifice bunt, moving up a runner into scoring position.

I’m a bigger fan these workmanlike moves in normal, everyday life: The coworker who skips lunch to offer feedback on a draft presentation so that you can look your best in front of your boss; the friend who gives up their own free time to take you out to lunch and lets you vent over work or the kids; the mother who gets up early every Saturday morning to cart one son to play practice and another to track practice so that they can participate in an afterschool activity, let off some steam, and improve themselves.

I find these actions fascinating. In this day and age, where me is more important than we, where athletes seem to care more about the name on the back, then the name on the front, I love reading about these unselfish acts.

When asked about the pass after the game, Arcidiacono said, “I saw Kris was open and I just did what we do.”

I’m sure that most people will forget all about Arcidiacono’s pass in day or two. I won’t be one of them.

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