Any idea which college has won the most NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament games in the past four years?
If you’re guessing North Carolina, guess again. If you think it’s Duke, you’re thinking wrong. Kentucky? Incorrect. Kansas? Wrong again. Villanova? Louisville? UCLA? Gonzaga? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The answer is the University of Wisconsin, with 13 tourney wins and four trips to the regional semifinals known as the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four appearances and one run all the way to the national championship game.
The Badgers have made it to the national tournament the last 19 years straight. That streak started under coach Dick Bennett. The program’s remarkable success is built on a foundation of Bennett’s five pillars: Humility. Passion. Unity. Servanthood. Thankfulness. In fact, those five words to live by are literally cemented in the foundation of the arena the Badgers call home.
These pillars are nowhere to be seen at the State Capitol. They are conspicuously missing in the behavior of state lawmakers. Three of the secrets to the Badgers’ sustained success on the hardwood are most noticeably absent in the marble corridors of power — humility, unity and servanthood.
Authentic leadership requires humility. Good leaders give credit and take blame. Today’s politicians routinely do the exact opposite.
Unity is indispensable in any team endeavor. If you picture Wisconsin government as a team, then it currently looks like a dysfunctional one. The team’s captains don’t seek unity, they consciously sow seeds of division instead.
Perhaps the ingredient of success that is most scarce in politics nowadays is servanthood. A true public service ethic has withered away. The aims of those who govern mirror the greed and self-centeredness that dominate American life. Those who hold office are supposed to be servants but act like masters. They rule, they don’t serve.
At least they don’t serve the masses. They scratch the backs of a wealthy and privileged few and get their backs scratched in return. They let a few use as much water as they want, to the point of drying up lakes and streams. And they get rewarded for it. They let others pollute as much as they want, to the point of poisoning countless neighbors. They get rewarded for that too. A thousand other transactions just like those are completed and rewards reaped.
When all is said and done, the qualities that have made the Wisconsin men’s basketball program a powerhouse are in terribly short supply in Wisconsin politics. What makes a successful team also makes a successful state. And it’s nowhere to be found in the Capitol these days. Coaches are fired for managing teams the way our state is being managed. Right there is one way life really should imitate sport.