The Thrill of Victory.

champsSeveral weeks ago there was a Struming about the disappointing end of the baseball season (for non-Cardinals fans) called The Agony of Defeat. The other half of the famous ABC Wide World of Sports expression is The Thrill of Victory, which is the focus of this Wednesday’s Struming.

There is nothing as exciting as working hard for a goal in business, sports or in life and then achieving your goal. In business in my former life as a communications agency President, the “thrill of victory” was achieved by winning a new account in a competitive review. I miss very little about my former agency head life; however, there’s nothing that compares to winning the pitch to fuel the psyche of an agency (and conversely to lose to deflate it).

The same is true in sports, and it needn’t be on a nationally televised event. I believe in competition and team work in sports as a metaphor for life. And I take pride in those few occasions where hard work paid off in a Championship.

I had the pleasure of being on a Championship team in a basketball league a few months ago in an “Over 40/Masters” basketball league at the local Jewish Community Center. The league is comprised of mostly professional guys past their prime trying to manage the slope of the decline of their basketball skills. No one plays above the rim. In fact the play is “below the net”, so to speak. I am slow, dribble poorly, and have a modest shot if taken within 15 feet from the basket. That makes me an average player in a league comprised of many over-the-hill players. There’s no shame in aging. Nonetheless the shirts, refs, time clock, and electronic scoreboard give everyone who plays the same real game sensation. Our team, sponsored by a local law firm, Andolfini & Goldstein, made the Championship game against a team with a more talented players. Our star player, Bruce Hudson, a very talented player,  led us throughout the season and throughout the Championship game. The game was tight but we were behind most of the game. But in the last few seconds we got the ball back down one point. I was fortunate to have the ball in my hands with 1 second left on the clock and my team down 1 point. No time to think pass or dribble. Just shoot baby. I did and I made it from around 15 feet. I would probably miss 2 of 3 of those shots ordinarily but not that time. Swish. Game won. Imagine my surprise to see the game results posted on our sponsor’s web site, Andolfini & Goldstein’s Over 40 Katz JCC Basketbasll Team Takes Championship, mentioning my one second of fame (I guess I still have 14 seconds of fame left this lifetime). 

The thrill of victory was great, and would have been regardless of who made the winning shot, but rarely in one’s life do you really have the opportunity to take the “shot at the buzzer”, the one every child  practices and counts down the clock hundreds of times on the playground.

It reinforced to me what I love about sports. Winning. Yes participating is terrific, but there’s nothing like winning, and being recognized for it. I’m thankful to have had the opportunity and lucky to have the ball in my hands at the right time, and thankful I made the shot at the right time. I treasure the T-shirt pictured above which was given to the members of the Championship team which simply says Men’s Basketball Champions Summer 2011.  While I need another T-shirt like a need a hole in my head, this is one T-shirt I will keep and wear proudly.

Lonny Strum, Champion. At least for a day. It still feels good.

PS:  Happy belated 42nd birthday yesterday, November 29, to a real Champion, Mariano Rivera. A class act in life and, hands down, the best relief pitcher of all time: 602. Exit Light, Enter Night.

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  1. Bruce Hudson says:

    Lonny, very cool!!! Thanks for sending this to me. I thoroughly enjoyed playing with you and you deserved the final shot. Good luck in the playoffs, unless you are paying us.


    • Lonny Strum says:

      I enjoyed playing with you as well. Playing with you means I don’t have to guard you which is no treat. Alas my team already played yours in playoffs before Christmas & I was out of town. No Championship for me this time.

  2. Ira C. Hock says:

    It was a lot of fun, especially with a team where everyone touches the ball … see NY Knicks circa 1970-73

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