One time I asked a friend what he wanted most out of life.
"To be remembered," he said.
But, of course, being remembered is not in and of itself a good thing.
How is this relevant to the Auburn game? The game was certainly memorable, but I'd almost rather forget the biggest game in Auburn basketball history than to have it overshadowed in our collective memory by a controversial call that tells so little of the story of the game.
A call that wasn't made, but definitely should've been, allowed the circumstances for a different call that was made but probably shouldn't have been, dictating a historically disappointing ending to a game Auburn should've won but didn't.
We the spectators can certainly sympathize with the team we love and believe in, but sympathy alone can never get us deep enough into the heart of their experience to truly understand what it must be like to work so hard just to have the fruits of their labor taken from them by a variable completely out of their control: good ole fashioned human error.
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The capacity to lose well is essential for a wholesome life, but losing gracefully is easier said than done when — more than having lost, you feel you've been robbed.
The fact that our players controlled their unimaginable and justified frustration speaks volumes about their character. It also means that if they aren't angry with the refs, we can't be either. But it doesn't stop there.
The dignity in defeat our players displayed is the very thing that gives us license to replace anger with something that feels much better. We get to feel proud — proud that our scrappy and beloved underdogs overcame the odds game after game and even prouder that all along they represented Auburn so well.
I'm glad that, for fair-weather fans like me who follow our teams much more readily when they're actually doing well, this season provided a chance to get to know Bruce Pearl a little better.
Before this season I knew I liked him. What I didn't know is that I wouldn't trade him for anyone.
He is the kind of coach every player wants to play for. He's the sixth man on the court. He knows no apathy. In half of the photos taken of him during the game, he is airborne and looks like he's about to explode.
When he is asked about his player's season-ending injury, he chokes up as love and optimism burst through his tears, "We're gonna rally."
By the time for postgame press conferences, he barely has any voice left.
His attitude is contagious; it begets in his players a resilience that has helped them overcome adversity and odds repeatedly stacked against them.
It's clear that his charisma springs from something deeper than a quest for championships and more specific than a passion for the game — he loves his players. Because of all this, his teams don't just play well. They win well, and they lose well.
Reflect on the message implied by Bruce's postgame question to his players: "Would we trust God any more in victory than we do in defeat?"
In the interview immediately following the game, the calm resolve on Bruce's face revealed his genuine embrace of the belief that this is what God intended. Whether or not that message gives any of the Auburn faithful any solace, it's pretty powerful to see someone believe it so fully.
Despite being fresh off a crushing last-second loss, being an Auburn fan feels easier right now than ever.
Lee Auman is a former congressional candidate and a 2015 graduate of Auburn University.
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