WHY UPSETS HAPPEN IN SOFTBALL
To further challenge and change your perspective on the old cliché that “the best team always wins,” let’s reflect upon some of the great moments in sports history.
The “Miracle On Ice” in the 1980 Winter Olympics between the Soviet hockey team and the US hockey team. The Soviet team consisted of seasoned professional athletes while the US team consisted of amateur collegiate athletes.
The whole world expected the Soviet team to come out victorious. The Soviets had destroyed the same USA team in an exhibition game 10-3 in Madison Square Garden on February 9, 1980, just days before the Olympics started. We all know, however, the end result was anything but what was expected. The US team’s 4-3 victory over the Soviet’s will go down in history, undisputedly, as one of the greatest upsets of all time. The better team was clearly the Soviet team, but the team that won was the US team.
Another prime example that defies the “best team always wins” cliché is Super Bowl XLII between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. The Patriots had accomplished an undefeated season (16-0) and reached the Super Bowl with a cumulative record of 18-0. This Patriots team was hailed by analysts as arguably the greatest NFL team ever and was the 12-1 favorite to be victorious. The victory, however, went to the undaunted Giants who led 17-14 as time expired. Who was the better team? The Patriots. Who played better on that night? The Giants.
Yet another example of a phenomenal upset is the 1985
NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship between the Georgetown Hoyas and the Villanova Wildcats. The Georgetown Hoyas were the defending national champions and the No 1 ranked team in the nation led by Patrick Ewing, the 1984 tournament’s Most Outstanding Player and one of the most dominant players in college basketball history. The Wildcats were unranked in the regular season with a 19-10 record and received an at-large bid for a number 8 seed in the tournament. In the National Championship game, Villanova went on to play a near perfect game against a team most thought to be unbeatable. The Wildcats shot an historic 79 percent from the floor as they defeated the Hoyas 66-64 to become the lowest seed in NCAA basketball history to win the national championship. Who was the better team? Georgetown. Who played a better game? Villanova.
In boxing, James “Buster” Douglas, the unknown 42-1 underdog, defeats Mike Tyson; in Olympic wrestling, unknown US wrestler Rulon Gardner defeats Russian wrestler Alexander Karelin, who was previously undefeated in 13 years of international competition; and the list goes on and on. All these upsets are sufficient evidence to conclude that the old cliché “the best team always wins” is false. The main reason is that the more talented teams often get so caught up on the outcome that they forget about the process to achieve what they desire. A huge part of the process is controlling what you can control (your performance) and letting the outcome take care of itself, and when the “best teams” show a mental lapse, the underdog is usually right there ready to seize the moment. We can, thus, definitively state that the best softball team/player never wins; it is always the softball team/player that plays the best.
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