Women’s Empowerment and the NCAA Tournament

In North Carolina (and other states too, I guess) there’s a thing that happens in March.  We call it March Madness, aka 4 weeks of watching college basketball.   Then the tournament starts, the lines on blank brackets marked up with predictions.  As the tournament advances, major upsets shred brackets into tiny pieces.

I have always said that during the tournament it’s the want, not the inflated talent, that creates winners

In my fancy heels and skirt,  I listened to a panel of women, guests of Action NC breakfast, discuss what empowering women looks like in practice, and as I tweeted the quotable moments, I couldn’t help thinking:

Women’s empowerment looks a lot like those Cinderella teams on the bracket.  You know, the Team Who? from the No-Name University in Tiny Town, Generic State. The players aren’t salivated over during the McDonald’s All-American Game; they aren’t graduates of exclusive preparatory schools.  No-Name University’s alumni can’t make donations in the triple zero and far beyond range.

And yet.  Here comes Team Who playing like this game is their only chance– because it is. Then Team Who upsets Team Blue Blood (think UNC, Duke, Kentucky, UConn) and just like that, none of the piles of money, or pre-professional players, or big school recruiting advantages matters anymore.

Team Who’s players didn’t choose that college to increase their draft pick stock; they don’t plan to get the glory and dribble off to the NBA as a One-&-Done.  No, most of Team Who’s players will exchange their jerseys for the uniform of a regular job.

But that night, that one night, Team Who’s players, with their years of practicing and playing together, that beautiful synergy of working for the group and not the self, created winners. Despite the odds not ever being in their favor, they overcame all of that big money and privilege, and they win.

I went to the first Moral Monday of this summer legislative session feeling overwhelmed with how many Really Important things need immediate attention from a General Assembly whose current majority prefers condescension over consideration.

It’s really hard to continue a conversation after watching your audience put on a set of noise-cancelling headphones.

I entered this morning’s breakfast an individual, I left this afternoon a player for Team Who.  A team whose heart and hard work will, eventually, upset Team Blue Blood (much to even their surprise), busting their political bracket

Don’t believe me?  It’s your bracket, fill the names in as you will. History– and heart– is on my side.