Winning is fun. Winning when it is not expected of you might be even more fun. Most of us love a good comeback story and recently, we were treated to a couple of good stories from the world of sports.
The University of Virginia men’s basketball team made history in 2018, but it was the kind of history that you don’t actually want to be known for. They became the first #1 seed to lose to a 16-seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament when they were defeated by the UMBC Retrievers.
The cynics (including myself) didn’t give them much of a chance in this year’s tournament (editor’s note: article published on April 15, 2019). But what do you know? They went from the outhouse to the penthouse in one year when they were the last team standing in March Madness. Virginia stayed focused, stayed together, and they won the 2019 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Quite a comeback story as a failure served to galvanize the team and make them stronger.
A few days after Virginia’s story of redemption, we were treated to another historic comeback. This time on an individual level.
In 2017, Tiger Woods would undergo his 4th back surgery in the span of two years. The 14-time major winner wasn’t thinking about winning golf tournaments at that point in his life. In fact, he wasn’t even ranked in the top 1000 golfers in the world! It appeared as if Father Time would remain undefeated. Tiger just wanted to live a pain free, normal life and be able to play with his kids.
But fast forward two years and he would pull off arguably the greatest comeback in sports history when he’d win his 5th green jacket at the 2019 Masters. The leader board on that final Sunday was a who’s who of the top golfers in the world but Tiger would prevail. He reminded everyone of the Tiger Woods from a decade ago. At 43 years of age and after countless surgeries and procedures, he captured his 15th overall golf major leaving him just three shy of Jack Nicklaus’ record.
Life is not about IF we stumble. It’s about how we’ll respond WHEN we stumble. And, make no mistake, we will stumble. We will have set backs. We will struggle. But will we get back up? Will we keep pressing on? Will we fail forward?
The Virginia Cavaliers heard the jokes after their upset loss. Tiger Woods heard the naysayers after all his surgeries. But in the end they both got the last laugh.