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Point of Law

Francisco Ed. Lim

The Blue Eagles way: outperforming expectations

Francisco Ed. Lim

December 16, 2016

As we close the calendar year, many organizations run through the annual twin rituals of self-examination and planning.  For organizations which follow the calendar year as their fiscal year, this is a time for reflection—of the year that has passed, judging success (or the lack thereof) based on pre-agreed metrics, and planning for the new year.
 
In business management, we go by the adage that what is worth managing is worth measuring—which is sometimes the reason why we are slaves of statistics.  But many will agree that while the metrics do tell a story, the bigger story of heart and passion and doing things right will always have a premium.
 
Our boardrooms and the hardcourt (for the basketball crazy) often share combined passions.  Indeed, the old fashioned values of hard work, preparation, discipline, integrity and winning dominate both arenas, with the last—our obsession with victory—often eclipsing all other concerns.   In rare instances, however, we take pride in something else.
 
When the modern Olympics was  born, mankind was told to exceed his limitations.  Citius, Altius, Fortius taught us that, more important than besting our peers, it is to better ourselves.  As a longtime basketball fan, I am proud to have witnessed the exemplification of this way of being in the 2016 Ateneo Blue Eagles, affectionately referred to by some as the “Bald Blue Eagles” as a nod to Coach Tab Baldwin.
 
The bemedaled international coach began his Philippine collegiate career rather inauspiciously.    Pundits felt that Coach Tab had already inherited a competitive team with 7-8 highly recruited players from different high school programs, which, however, he promptly overhauled.  Gone were the big named recruits for failure to measure up to Ateneo’s academic standards.  Players from Ateneo’s Team B, together with less heralded names, were brought to the forefront.  The team started shaky during the summer, and attendance dwindled.   As the season began, the team was still groping for form and had, at one point, lost as many games as it had won.  Without a superstar it was a team that was doomed.
 
But we did not obsess with victory, we focused on doing things right.  The true Blues believed.  When the 300 Spartans held fort in Thermopylae, it is not the eventual Greek victory that is remembered, but the courage and skill of the famous 300.  When the Czechs celebrate the famous “7 men at daybreak,” it is not their eventual death that is remembered, but it is how they held strong, to the death, against the overpowering German army.
 
Our 2016 Bald Eagles will be similarly remembered.  A group of young men, barely considered an intramural team by some, never expected to make the Final 4, let alone the finals.  But the team showed to all and sundry that the game is played, not by one man, nor by skill alone, but by grit, coaction and hard work.  The Bald Eagles were the only team to defeat the eventual champions the entire season and they were also the only team to have dethroned the defending champions.
 
To La Salle and its  management,  coaching staff and patrons, kudos for developing a great team.    In the end, our rivalry  is not about Ateneo versus La Salle or the Green Archers versus Blue Eagles, but more importantly, what it means for sports development of the country and in a broader context, what it means for the competitiveness of the country in the international arena.
 
To  the Blue Eagles:  you have outperformed your targets as we say in business, which prayerfully  has set a new standard of extraordinary diligence for the teams to come as we say in law.  Hold your heads high:  This  is the first time that we Ateneans felt proud of a loss because in  our hearts and mind, you have truly won!