After experiencing last Saturday’s UAAP Senior’s basketball finals, I went home with a deeper understanding of what that time-honored Ateneo cheer “One Big Fight” means.
The stronger team from Taft clearly prepared for this one. Being the bigger team, the Archers allowed the smaller Eagles to cut in and then jam them once inside, resulting in the latter’s poor execution and forcing lower percentage shots from the outside. A 15-point hole after the first quarter was enough for a blue Eagle fan like me to choke with fear and almost give up.
But grit and heart have a way overcoming odds and by the end of the third, the score was tied. Less than a minute to go, the Eagles even led before losing out by two points.
How is it possible to lose a game and still come out feeling like a winner?
For one, it has to do with expectations. This team was not expected to win.
Truth to tell, this was a rag-tag team of mainly home-grown team B players with limited experience, without superstars, and a new coach to boot. But they exceeded everyone’s expectations by barging into the finals. Losing by just two points in game one of the finals against a vaunted dream team was not how it was supposed to play out.
A “sure win” that becomes “breaks of the game” challenges the popular notion that “winning is the only thing”.
“One Big Fight” is not just about the winning. It’s also about the fighting. It’s playing your hand, no matter how lousy, to the best of your ability. It’s about trying, never quitting. It’s not giving up when you’re down, and not listening to people who say you’re in way over your head.
It’s about believing in yourself when others won’t.
It’s promising to give the challenge one hell of a big fight. I’ve always told my executives to ask themselves this question whenever they feel like quitting: “Have we done everything we can to achieve our purposes? If not, then our game plan is laid out before us. And if the answer is yes, then we sleep well because whatever the outcome, we have already won.
You know, this team could have just taken the easy way out. Afterall, when the odds seem too great, there’s a tendency to not strive anymore, to walk a path of least resistance and take refuge in the thought that we won’t win anyways. It’s easy to play to the expectations of the gallery that has already discounted you even before you start.
But not this team. Not this time. Theirs is the stuff great stories are made of. The over-achieving underdog. From Cinderella to Rocky Balboa.
“One Big Fight” is about starting a small company and making it big; a poor boy conquering Silicon Valley; an ordinary housewife becoming leader of a nation; or marching out to protest for a belief that is unpopular. We may fail in our fights but that is not the point.
Life after all is not about never failing. It’s about fighting the one big fight.
By JJ Atencio