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Butler captures the country’s imagination

By · April 3, 2011 at 12:43 pm

As the golf cart motored by the cottage in Sun Lakes, Arizona, you could hear the exchange over the hum of the battery powered cart.

“I just like Butler. They seem to never quit.”

I thought this vacation to the sunny southwest would regenerate my battery after five weeks of watching and listening as politicians blamed each other for the lack of activity at the Indiana Statehouse. But for the second year in a row my plans were thwarted.

A year ago I didn’t even want to go the beach in Florida because I was missing out. While I was supposed to be sunning myself everyone back home in Indiana was basking in the sunlight of Butler’s improbable run and I was missing out. How was I supposed to know that Spring Break meant Butler Basketball?

You would think I would have learned my lesson. Now one year later I am visiting with my in-laws, sitting along the 7th hole, experiencing a strange deja vu. It is not the first time an underdog has captured the imagination of the country.

During another recession, in fact an actual depression, a small horse with a big heart ran the race for the common man. There is a great line in the movie Sea Biscuit where the trainer tells the jockey to slack off coming around the second turn to let the horse look into the eyes of its competition. Then hold on. For some reason that I was I think of when I watch Butler.

There wasn’t supposed to be a thoroughbred in the bunch except for Shelvin Mack, but he didn’t start that way. He willed himself that way. Matt Howard carries the hopes of the town of Connersville, Indiana and every other small town in America – where people know and like their mailman enough to make sure he has the ability to take his family to watch his son deliver.

You feel good about yourself when you see the shot of the Howard family watching the game. Hard work makes good. Family makes right. Matt Howard is the one I think of most when I remember that line from the movie Sea Biscuit. Just slack off a bit and let him look in the eyes of his competition. Then hang on. We are all hanging on.

From the world of politics, from the golf courses across America, to a lot of folks going out to pick up their mail. All rooting for a team of unlikely basketball players who haven’t realized they are not supposed to be able to do this. Certainly not two years in a row. They may not win Monday night either, but for a lot of their fans it is┬ánot always about surviving. Monday night it will be about thriving again.

Looking into the eyes of that thoroughbred next to you and then taking off. What does that popular television commercial say? It’s just my way of sticking it to the man. I can’t wait until Tuesday morning. I can almost hear it now. Just over the hum of the passing golf cart, or on the mail route in Connersville. “I knew they could do it” someone will say in a tone that belies what that really implies. I can do it too. Just let me at ‘em.



A suggestion for you: Butler Basketball has become a real hot item across the country. Many of my friends would love to see the Butler Rally but can’t find it. As a former Hoosier, I found it and tried to help them, but they still have problems. How about giving Butler Athletic department the whole tape of the rally for their website to help all outside the Indy area the opportunity to see what the real Butler Bulldogs are all about! It would sure help Butler and it was a great rally and gave the Coach a chance to be heard and learn more about the amazing kids of Butler! Considering ESPN gave a tape they used during the tournament, that might be an incentive for you as well.

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