Seth Davis

College Seniors Achieve Success in Areas That Matter Most

by Seth Davis January 26, 2009 in Men's Basketball

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Like the rest of American society, today’s basketball is driven by a culture of instant gratification, which is always searching for the answer to the question of, “What’s next?” In the land of hoop we’re fixated on rising ninth graders, incoming college freshmen and the speculation over which undergraduates will leave school and be first-round draft picks in next year’s NBA draft. Against this backdrop, the act of becoming a college senior is, in the view of some, an admission of failure. You weren’t good enough to turn pro, so you had to stick around and graduate.

Yet, only about two dozen undergraduate basketball players are good enough to turn pro each year. For the many hundreds who are fortunate enough to become college seniors, they know that they have not failed at anything. Rather, they have succeeded in achieving in the areas that matter most: community, classroom, character and competition. The college senior understands that you do not turn from a boy into a man overnight, and just because you’ve signed a million-dollar contract does not mean you’ve learned anything important.

The college senior knows the value of delayed gratification. Over a four-year period, he has grown and matured, bit by laborious bit. He has figured out that the more you learn, the more you realize how much you don’t know. He is more skilled and more confident, yet also more humbled by the setbacks he has encountered along the way. He has come to understand that graduating from a college is a hard-won privilege, and as that sad day approaches when he knows that college must end and real life must begin, he decides that he will never take for granted the sheepskin he was handed at the end of his graduation day’s walk.

For a college athlete, the lessons learned during four years on campus are especially profound. Only through a four- or five-year career can he truly come to know the values of work ethic, teamwork and sacrifice. Mark Twain once said, “Never let school get in the way of your education.” So it is on the basketball court where this particular collegian has really received his education. He is older, wiser, smarter, humbler. These are the bounties of seniority.

This instant gratification society needs the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award now more than ever. ┬áNot just because it celebrates the academic and athletic achievements of those who win it, but because it reminds all of us that good things really do come to those who wait. The winner has proven not just that he is a superb individual talent, but that he also knows how to be a member of a team and a community. He has evinced dedication not just on the court but in the classroom. He has shown that points and rebounds may count in a box score, but character is the only statistic that endures. And above all he has demonstrated his love for competition, learning how to find grace under pressure while teaching us what really counts.

The Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award is special because it doesn’t try to answer the question of, “What’s next?” Instead it answers the question, “What’s now?” Coaches are always trying to remind their players to live in the moment. The CLASS award recognizes the player who, more than any other in America, has succeeded in doing just that.