We know why you’re in an “epidemically” crabby mood these days.  It’s not because toilet paper is in short supply.  It’s not because you can’t turn on your computer without being reminded to wash your hands. It’s not because your teenage kids seem to enjoy social distancing from you.

No.  It’s because they’ve canceled the NCAA college basketball tournament.  The greatest sports tournament in the world, ever!  No March Madness this year.  No office pools, brackets or communal work shut down to follow the early games on Thursday and Friday.  Just enforced remote working.

Fortunately, watching the games is only part of the greatness of the tournament.  The true magic of March Madness is that all the games, all the upsets, all the past tournaments live in our collective national memory, to be cherished and revisited, in a way that is different from any other sporting event.  Here are just a few of my favorite memories with a slight ACC bias…

  • 1982 Championship game:  Georgetown vs UNC.  Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing and Sleepy Floyd battled UNC’s James Worthy, Sam Perkins and Freshman Michael Jordan.  Future hall of famers all over the court and legendary Dean Smith wins his first National championship.
  • 1992 East Regional Game: Duke vs Kentucky. Grant Hill threw the ball to the Blue Devil free throw line where Christian Laettner caught the ball turned around and drained a 15 footer to give Duke a 104-103 victory.  It was one of those games where you remember where you were when you watched it.
  • 2016 Championship game:  Villanova – UNC.   Kris Jenkins’ final shot at the buzzer beats UNC.  The previous national championship won at the buzzer was JIm Valvano’s NC State team beating over Houston’s “Phi Slamma Jamma” in 1983.
  • 2019.  UVA’s magical run to the championship.  After losing to UMBC in 2018, UVA plays in at least three “classics” against Purdue, Auburn and Texas Tech to win the national title.  Kyle Guy sinking three straight free throws against Auburn, down by two with 1.5 sec left – ice water in his veins!

While this is a nice walk down memory lane, there are two things we can take away from these moments.

  1.  Prepare, work hard, and be disciplined:  All of the teams above didn’t just roll the ball out and greatness arrived.  Their coaches prepare them all year with skill development, situational practice drills and shooting thousands of free throws at the end of practice.  All businesses need to do the same thing.  Be disciplined, plan ahead, and do all of the little things well.  So when the moment arises, whether it is an opportunity or a challenge, you are ready to take action.
  2. Don’t panic:  It is really amazing to watch how calm the best players and coaches are in these big moments.  While some of it can be attributed to personality, a significant portion of it is attributed to #1 above.  Businesses can take a page out of the Coach K or Dean Smith playbooks.  When the big moments come, take a deep breath, know you are prepared and just go execute.

So cheer up my fellow telecom professionals, MSPs and channel partners.  No, it won’t be the same March this year — we’ll be too busy staging our own collective comeback victories against COVID-19.