But, I believe that collegiate sports should be more than simply winning. Coach Frank Martin (like KSU football coach Bill Snyder) has tried to instill more into his players. Today's column by Bob Lutz of The Wichita Eagle captures this well:
K-State, even after losing to Butler 63-56 in the NCAA West Regional final Saturday afternoon, carries its head high, believing that the best is yet to come. These are impressive players and people who gave credit to the Bulldogs for the way they went about winning the game instead of blaming themselves or anyone else for losing...
Remember, though, K-State hasn't been to a Final Four since 1964. The dormant program that started to stir four years ago when Bob Huggins was hired is now kicking and screaming and made it closer to Indy than anyone expected before the season started.
"I told them that winning and losing are very superficial,'' Martin said of his post-game speech to players. "You invest so much and you should hurt when you don't win. But in the big picture, these kids have made a lot of people live for something again. They've made K-Staters around this country believe in them, believe in the program, believe in their school and stick their chest out.''
Credit Martin and his assistant coaches. They have recruited not only quality players, but quality people to K-State. They believe in giving second chances to players who couldn't find themselves in basketball or in life at other places. The Wildcats' roster is loaded with interesting, quality guys who are entertaining, thoughtful and who have more on their minds than just basketball...
It's a loose group, surprising considering the intensity that burns through Martin. But when he tells people he is first a mentor and an educator, and that basketball is just a forum he uses, he's not pulling anyone's leg.
... Coaches can be and often are important role models in the lives of young people, but the dollars they get paid at the big-time college level have changed the motives for some. Martin strives for something more than the green, though. He relishes the chance to work with players from all backgrounds and spent a good portion of every news conference during the NCAA Tournament to espouse his theories on educating. His message is consistent and iron-fisted.
The entire column is well worth reading. As far as I'm concerned, getting to the Elite Eight is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. If the young men under Coach Martin get an education and a wonderful mentor then they -- and our society -- will always be winners.