Last Wednesday, the Houston Cougars beat the Texas Longhorns in men’s basketball with the score of 73-72. I hope you were there in person to experience the most poignant moment of the game.
No, I am not talking about the alley-oop pass by Danuel House to kick off the game, although it did set the tone for the rest of the evening.
No, I am not talking about Joseph Young’s buzzer-beater 3-pointer to end the first half, although that did bring the entire house down.
No, I am not talking about Cougar’s 72-seconds 11-0 run, although that did bring UT’s momentum to a screeching halt.
And no, I am not talking about House’s dazzling shot with 17.7 seconds remaining on the clock, although it was the winning score of the night.
My poignant moment came at the conclusion of the game. Cougar players did not take pictures of the scoreboard, they did not hug each other and danced on the court, they did not run to their coaches and lifted them on their shoulders. Instead, these Cougars ran toward the student section, jumped up in the stands, joined them in victory chorus and danced with them. The rest of the fans delayed their exist and watched this touching moment. The band played on, the cheerleaders cheered, the spectators stood mid-court. All eyes were on the student section! Students–they filled two entire sections–had stayed and supported their team like never before. They cheered. They chanted. They screamed. They waved their hands. And they created a thundering noise. Undoubtedly they were a big factor in swinging the momentum of the game. The players knew it, too, and now it was time for the players to be with their supporters to express their gratitude and share their joy.
To me, that is what college athletics is all about. Winning and losing? Of course! But most important, learning to bind as a force and belong as a community. At that moment, those players were the heroes and they could have easily huddled together and celebrated themselves, but they did what Cougars always do. Share their joy with others!
To me personally, who never had a chance to play any sports (my high school and college, like most in rural India, did not have any), this was a magical moment!
Congratulations Team! The win was good, but the winners were the best!!