THE CASE FOR ... - Sports Illustrated Vault |
Publish date:



THE LINE STRETCHING out the door of your local Simply Salad and the 40-minute wait for a treadmill can mean only one thing: It's New Year's Resolution season. Most of those people will be off kale and on the couch by the time the calendar flips to February, because change is hard. But perhaps we can all adopt the University of Central Florida football team's resolution: to choose joy.

UCF opened the season as perhaps the fifth-best team in Florida; it finished as the only undefeated team in the FBS. But an American Athletic Conference title doesn't carry much weight with the College Football Playoff committee, and the team found itself in the Peach Bowl—where it defeated Auburn, which had beaten both Alabama and Georgia.

The Knights had been critical of what they saw as disrespect by the selection committee. But as they posed with their trophy on New Year's Day, their shoulders coated in white and gold confetti, they had a conscious choice to make. They had done everything they could and had still fallen short of what they felt they deserved. They had every right to be disappointed. Instead athletic director Danny White faced a camera and said simply, "National champions. Undefeated."

So UCF took the 40-minute drive to Disney World. The team spent Sunday afternoon marching with Mickey Mouse as a five-deep crowd roared. The next night the Knights were presented the keys to Orlando. The school paid its coaches their contractual national championship bonuses and ordered rings. It plans to raise a national championship banner.

Pundits have spent the week since quarreling about the merits of UCF's claim. Whatever! These arguments miss the point: This rocks. The Knights decided not to be disappointed because this season was not a disappointment. Two years ago they went 0--12. This year they won by an average margin of 22.9 points. UCF showed that you can control your own happiness. You must control your own happiness. In a world full of adults behaving badly, leave it to college sports to provide a teaching moment.