1461363_10201378150074296_2055553453_nMy favorite team had a tough year. Pretty much the only sport I follow is college basketball and my alma mater – the University of Pittsburgh – is my favorite team. I have had season tickets for more years than I want to admit. As fans, we have been spoiled rotten with the team’s success over the past decade and a half after years of mostly misery. So when the team has a year like this one – a winning season, but not enough to get them into the Big Dance and an early exit from the ACC Tournament, it leaves me a little sad.

You see, I use college basketball season to struggle through winter and this winter was harsher than normal in a year when my favorite team was ice cold most nights. Perhaps that is why I grew a new level of hate for the winter season.

After years of making the NCAA Tournament in six of eight years between 1987 and 1993 but not performing well in the tourney, Pitt went nine years without sniffing the NCAAs. Then the golden years began in 2002, with the team making the tournament 10 years in a row and 12 of 13, making the Sweet 16 four times and the Elite Eight once.

The spoiled fans of the team complained throughout this stretch for various reasons and now that Pitt has failed to make the tournament for only the second time in a 14-year timespan, I hope that people are realizing some things that also apply to life in general.

  1. Enjoy the ride. Yes this season was painful but there were moments that were filled with pure joy – the win over Notre Dame, the sweep of Syracuse and the drubbing of North Carolina come to mind. It’s not always about the destination as the journey is sometimes just as important. Even in that near decade of hoops misery between 1993 and 2002, I went to nearly every game and remember overall having a good time. Life is about a series of seemingly uneventful events. If you don’t take time to enjoy every moment, you’re missing out on a lot of good feelings.
  2. Embrace success and don’t take it for granted. During those years that Pitt was making the Sweet 16, fans and media howled that the team didn’t make it farther in the tournament. And in the years when the team lost before that milestone, the critics were even louder. I can’t even listen to talk radio this week because I’m sure the commentary is beyond absurd. Success is not something that you are entitled to, so enjoy it when you have it because you never know when you’ll have it again.
  3. Appreciate what you have. The stunning call for the firing of the head coach who has overseen the best decade of Pitt basketball just baffles me. Firing a coach isn’t always the solution, especially one who has proven to be a magician of sorts in finding success with talent that is less than NBA-level. We all have so much – whether it’s relationships, business or just stuff in general – stop taking it all for granted.
  4. The sun will come out tomorrow. Yes, I’m disappointed but hope springs eternal for a new year. Heck, if the team heads to the NIT I’ll even hit those games because that means the season isn’t over yet and because there is always hope, I can envision – if only for a day or two – my favorite team playing at my favorite venue, Madison Square Garden, for the NIT Finals. And no matter what disappointment you are facing today, just get up and attack the new day with all you have.