I've always thought this was the special period in the sports calendar. That window between the Ides of March and Mayday. Within it you have: NCAA Championships in Basketball and Hockey (men and women); NCAA Wrestling Championship; Baseball Opening Day; Start of the NBA and NHL playoffs; Spring College Football; the NFL Draft; The Masters and, when the mathematics of the calendar lines up, you get The Kentucky Derby on May 1st.
It is something to watch, all that anticipation, all that expectation ("we're in the playoffs, anything's possible!!!") and thankfully, by taking a bit of time to reflect, you can catch a lesson or two. Let me share one from this rich period.
"The price of success...the determination that whether we win or lose, we applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand"...Vince Lombardi
Ernie Els, winner of a British Open and two US Opens was looking forward to the Masters. In the twilight of his professional career (he's 46, the oldest age at which a Masters has been won) one expects he feels the clock ticking, opportunity is fleeting now. It started well, 3rd shot to within 3 feet on the par 4 first hole, sink it, move on with the jitters gone and get after that championship. Then, reality intruded, as Ernie put it " I couldn't get the putter back...it's something that's a short up there somewhere" Observing this short circuit in action is agonizing to detail and was even more painful to watch, 6 putts inside of 3 feet to put a 1.68" golf ball into a 4.25" hole. A 9 on the 1st hole at Augusta, the highest recorded score on that hole in 80 years of The Masters.
So, there he is, 46 years old, no chance of victory, as fellow golfer Davis Love III said "He could have just turned right off of #1 instead of left...nobody would have thought any worse of him for it" But, he's a professional, he didn't falter in the face of the struggle he chose to drive on finishing his round at 80 (8 over par) He showed up to work on Friday, it wasn't easy. As Ernie put it "they kind of just looked at me as if I didn't have pants on or something" He played with the #1 player in the world, Jason Day and played at 1 over par.
Our lesson from Ernie...Do your job. He did his, he wished it had turned out better but he didn't quit, didn't retreat to twitter about how tough the course was, or how it wasn't fair!! (He'd made practice putts at 3 feet).
He stuck it out, he applied "the best of ourselves to the task at hand" and showed why this is a magical season and we learn from sports and the Sportsmen.