Liberty is being free from the things we don't like in order to be slaves of the things we do like.--Ernest Benn

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Easy As pi

Why is Trophy Wife bringing the front page of the Los Angeles Times in to me this morning? So I asked myself And why is the day's column by my favorite sports writer, Bill Plaschke, filling up the left hand column on the front page?

Well, it didn't turn out to be about civil war in Lybia, revolution in Egypt, nation-building in Quicksandistan, or the dictatorship of the Corporariat in Madison. It was about a egghead college basketball team winning its first league game in more than a quarter century.

In the closing minutes on Tuesday, Caltech scored a 46-45 victory over Occidental. The last league victory for Caltech in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was on Jan. 23, 1985. As Plaschke does the math for us, that before any players on the current team were even born.

There were other historical firsts that night. For example, when's the last time anyone heard of dumping a jumbo cooler of ice cold Gatorade over a coach's head on an immaculate indoor basketball court?

Plaschke writes that during that span of 25-plus years,

Caltech brains have been able to change the world, yet they couldn't figure out how to win a basketball game against any of their seven SCIAC opponents representing 10 local NCAA Division III schools.

Never in a million years, it seemed, could Caltech win a conference basketball game. With no cheerleaders, no pep band, and often no hope, Caltech's players have spent much of the last 26 years fighting solitary failure.

Some years, the team had players who never even played high school basketball. Some days, those players would fall asleep in practice after pulling all-night studying sessions. During at least one game several years ago, I witnessed a Caltech player doing his homework on the bench.

Yet the school has never dropped the sport because officials believe the struggles have served as an important part of an athlete's education. Before leaving campus to solve some of the world's mysteries, a Caltech men's basketball player is uniquely equipped to deal with the ones he cannot.
Think about that for a moment, Dear Reader, before clicking on to read Plaschke's original in full.


  1. For most of us it takes a lot of years to figure out what you are not equipped to do. Some times it is a rude awakening. Acknowledging ones limitations is a sign of maturity.