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Opinion: March Madness heartbreaker loss offers good life lesson

Georgetown's Dante Harris celebrates while holding the Most Outstanding Player trophy after an NCAA college basketball game against Creighton in the championship of the Big East Conference tournament Saturday, March 13, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with the KSL newsroom.

Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs hits THE miracle shot at the buzzer, defeating the UCLA Bruins 93-90. The undefeated Bulldogs advanced to the NCAA March Madness championship game, only to lose to the Baylor Bears. But the Zags’ 31-1 season was quickly proclaimed a tragedy, a tragic failure. And head coach Mark Few was criticized for not winning the Big One. 

So the perfect ending to a perfect season, didn’t happen, but it rarely does.

Life lessons learned from loss

Despite what Hollywood movies and romance novels regularly portray, there very few things that end with “happily ever after.” We’ve been conditioned, over and over, to believe that the culmination of any good story or saga is found in the final six words: And they lived happily ever after.

Could it possibly be that the 99.9% of the story before “happily ever after,” is what matters most?

The part that matters most is the 99.9% of a movie, a book or a play portraying the obstacles, setbacks, tension, uncertainty, heartache, success, failure, lessons learned, weaknesses exposed, relationships lost, some found,  personal redemption, critical realizations — all combined with tears of both sadness and joy, intertwined with other imperfect people on their own up-and-down journey.

If we step back and think about it: If we didn’t have those highs and lows, the good and the bad, there is really no reason to engage with the story or movie in the first place.

Happily ever after is a myth

I’m actually convinced “happily ever after” was invented for parents to get their children to go to sleep. “Happily ever after,” that’s the end — Happily is not a destination, happily is the way you travel. 

Whether it’s a relationship, a job or an entrepreneurial endeavor, it isn’t always about the end. It is the journey to the end. 

Even in the course of The Pandemic. On Saturday, Utah’s statewide mask mandate is scheduled to end. That is not a “happily ever after.”

Life is like an old-time railway journey: delays, sidetracks, jolts — interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The challenge is to be thankful that you’re along for the ride and riding happily, all the time enjoying the journey.

March Madness as much about the journey as the title

The journey or process gives us meaning to our lives. Not that we get to hoist the championship trophy.

Just travel happily.

Lastly, I want to offer a big thanks to all of the NCAA basketball teams who contributed to the most wonderful time of the year: March Madness — and much needed this year. And thanks to the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who won 31 games with class and lost one game with grace. Almost forgot, a tip of the old hat to the Baylor Bears.

And they all lived happily.



Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson, who is also the opinion editor of the Deseret News, can be heard weekdays from 1 to 3 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

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