This is the season when many Americans go crazy over their favorite college’s standing in the national basketball tournament, and my family is no exception. As of this afternoon, we’re represented variously by the teams from three schools. Our schools have made it to the Sweet 16. Or at least the teams did.
I watch the games with mixed emotions. The sport purportedly celebrates teamwork, but the sport is a star-maker. What a thrill to see the lone basketball player ahead of the pack, leaping to dunk the basketball – “taking it to the rim,” the sportscasters say. But behind that player is the team– four other players who never give up and who take the elbows as they guard their opponents.
The sports lingo of “taking it to the rim” reminds me of another metaphor that a long-time friend and former college teacher uses in her email signature: “I do all my own stunts.” I don’t read her signature statement as one glorifying her work. I don’t think she sees herself as a star. She works part-time, and she’s a mother and a wife, plus she makes time to write. She doesn’t have a team backing her up.
She’ll probably never hear the crowds whoop in her honor, but she does take it to the rim with her creative ideas and writing. And she brilliantly juggles and balances family life and work. The basketball tournament and the perseverance and grit of the players, as well as the shining moments, remind me more broadly of college life– of friends I roomed with years ago, and, after that, of students, especially student athletes, I taught, and of office mates and colleagues. I’m thinking of the hard, sometimes uncelebrated, work these people do.
As I note on TV the cheering fans in the large basketball arenas, I want to cheer today for my friend, who does all her own stunts.
And cheers for you, too,
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach
nancy @ nancywhichard.com