Back in the seventies, “UP FIGHT!” meant enduring teargas and truncheon at rallies, fighting against a dictatorship.
Today, or at least for the next few weeks, “UP FIGHT!” is about the basketball team’s quest for relevance as they come face to face, not so much with better teams, but with the process that will define in deep personal terms what success means, and what it takes to be champions.
For a basketball team that was considered by most to be perennially out of contention every year in the UAAP, this season is turning out to be the breakout year for the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons.
Suddenly, the UP Maroons are now part of the conversation. They have a crack at the Final Four. They are winning more games; their students and alumni are starting to watch in droves; and support continues to come from all over. This serendipity is just hard to ignore.
Truth to tell, it’s not that easy for me to watch UP basketball games. Having helped this team go to the training camp in Las Vegas, you could say I have some real skin in their game. And If you’ve ever experienced being an underdog in business or in life, then you’ll understand why I support this team. And why their victories somehow give all of us inspiration.
It’s a “Cinderella Story” to be sure, and we need to applaud their optimism, hard work and grit. They don’t give up, even in the face of stronger, more mature opponents, as they go through that arduous process of becoming champions. Life isn’t fair and so we have to work at it inspite of the odds.
As I’ve mentioned to Coach Bo Perasol after our third straight loss, that beyond winning or losing, the team should be having fun. And that having fun and being happy with the way one plays shouldn’t be attached to whether or not we win or lose games.
I’ve always felt that success is not so much about winning as it is the process of becoming, and how, going through this process changes the way we see ourselves and come to grips with what we can achieve. I mean it’s the difference between earning a million dollars through hard work versus winning it in a lottery. One is the result of a process while the other is luck.
We just have to be patient and let the process run its course. And that means, never giving up. The process of becoming a champion, be it in sports, business, or life, is painful. We will lose before we can win. But the process also gives us the wisdom to understand that losing is simply part of winning.