In Defense of Greatness. Because Someone Needs To Be.


February 18, 2017 by gregrabidoux2013



Wicked special that Tommy.


In just the last three weeks we, or at least those of us paying close attention, have witnessed a very rare trifecta of greatness, perfection really. And inexplicably, this greatness, while cheered heartily in some quarters has elicited just as many yawns, whistles of derision and downright resentment in many other quarters.

And that just ain’t right.

Let me explain.

My alma mater, the University of Connecticut Women Huskies basketball team recently won its 100th straight game. They have not lost a game since November 17th 2014 when they lost a squeaker to Stanford in overtime.

That makes 2 years and 3 months and counting without a loss. This program also are national champs for 4 straight years and counting. Breanna Stewart (Stewie) their All-Everything superstar, now playing professionally in the WNBA finished her collegiate career winning nearly every single game she played and was an NCAA I Women’s Champion for each of her 4 years of eligibility.



A championship for every year in school. Amazing.


Back-to-Back-to-Back-to-Back. A Fourpeat.

The UCONN women’s team graduated 4 of its 5 starters, each an All-American and somehow under the direction of Coach Geno Auriema they are ranked #1 and the odds-on favorite to, you guessed it, win this years national championship. If they do so that would be #8.

Perfection? Not quite, but about as close as any coach and any program at any level has ever come to being perfect.

Outside of Storrs, CT though much of the media and fans of the game complain about how UCONN is “not good for the sport” and that “it is boring.”

Personally, I find the ongoing saga at UCONN as exhilarating and inspiring a sports story, really a life story there is for anyone at any age. It’s not just about becoming great for a game or a season. But sustained success? A lesson is there for any of us who want to truly learn and apply what it takes in any walk of life.



Hate him? Nah, learn from him.


Not that far from the still mostly rural campus at Storrs is a magical place called Foxborough. That is where the NE Patriots NFL team sweat and grind through every practice, every film session and every OSW and SW under the direction of Coach Bill Belichik, aka, “The Hoodie.”



Maybe it’s not the hoodie but what’s underneath the hoodie.


He and team leader and quarterback Tom Brady have now been to more Super Bowls than any coach-player tandem (7) and won more Super Bowls than any coach-player with 5 and counting.

Yet, to many outside of the confines of Foxborough and most of New England this unprecedented success and dynastic excellence in a league built for parity and uncertainty (this means better ratings apparently) is met with a range of emotions from disdain, disgust to outright resentment.

But what about deflated footballs? What about stealing signals years ago?

Silliness really. The former was mostly about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wanting to consolidate his internal power vis-à-vis the NFLPA and the latter. well, all teams try and steal signals and practice schemes they just got caught. And that was nearly 10 years ago.

Neither incident diminishes the near-perfection that a fast-approaching 40 year old QB and a perfectionist coach have achieved in a league as competitive, brutal and unforgiving as there is in the world.

Do your job indeed.



Like him? I want to be him.


And recently, a true idol of mine, an athlete that seems to utterly personify grace and excellence, Roger Federer, won his unprecedented 18th Major Tennis title. At age 35, he is ancient. Having just come off of major knee surgery his victory over his longtime rival, Rafa Nadal at the often brutal Australian Open was to many, shocking. But really, after so many years of sustained brilliance any such win even at his age can no longer be shocking. The only thing nearly shocking is what the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus are accomplishing (still!) on the women’s tour. As an avid and competitive tennis player these three are setting the bar of perfection incredibly high in what I consider to be clearly the most difficult and demanding individual sport in the world.



If there is a more mentally tough player in any sport show me. Cuz you can’t.


So, why is there so much pushback against this greatness? So much seeming resentment and hatred?

is it inherently in our human nature, our genetic composition to fear, maybe even loathe the greatness of others? Does this all boil down to some Darwinian theory of tribal perpetuity and the need for the “herd” to not overlook “us” for “them?”

Look, I love the occasional “Cinderella” or underdog story in sports. Villanova “shocking” the Dukes, UNC’s and UCLAs of the March Madness. Or the “Lovable Cubbies” finally winning it all.

But let’s face it, those teams and their winning didn’t come out of a vacuum. Commitment, talent, a clear plan, and a collective will to win all helped those teams attain their dream. But what about next year? Or the year after, or the year after that and the next?

No, there is something very special about teams and individuals that don’t just win once or even when they are expected to but win match after match, season after season, year after year.

The deck is stacked against such perfection. Age, attrition, parity, league rules, injuries, free agency, resentment, scheduling, you name it, such perfection has all been outlawed.



Stop qualifying his greatness with “Women’s Coach.” He’s the greatest coach ever. period.


But here they are again at the tops of their professions. The UCONN Husky Women’s Basketball program. The New England Patriots. Roger Federer. Serena and Venus Williams.

Resent if you must. Mock if you can’t help yourself. But you simply cannot deny their perfection.

And if you were really wise you’d learn from them and apply to your own life’s goals.

Because imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

And boy, do these teams and stars deserve our flattery.









21 thoughts on “In Defense of Greatness. Because Someone Needs To Be.

  1. Savianna says:

    I enjoyed this article. I am no where near on their level of awesomeness nor am I athletic, anymore anyway.. haha, but this reminds me of the struggles of grad school. With anything in life we have obstacles and people who don’t support because they don’t want to see you win. I think success has a lot to do with who you are, what your fighting for, and how bad you want it. My finance/father of my child passed when she was only 1.(She just turned 3). A mess I was of course, but I didn’t give up. I graduated with my B.S. 6 months later and was accepted into grad school before graduating. I was determined and persistent. I was told that I was doing too much or that I should take a break, etc. Where does that really get you? Nowhere! Doing too much is what gets you to greatness. Doing too much is what keeps yous distracted from the negative. My degrees won’t be a championship medal or anything but it will feel that we way to because I fought for it. I admire athletes, the amount of discipline that they require both physically and mentally is astounding. People don’t really sit back and think about what it takes to get where they are, or anywhere difficult for that matter. They just judge or find ways to put people down, a natural human trait I suppose these days. The negative comments about the William’s sisters body’s for example, like are you serious? They are the most amazing female tennis players out there, which I would like to add is strenuous on the knees and a very difficult sport. To anticipate a small balls location within seconds and then to get in place is just out of this world to me. I’ve tried it and almost died. Anyway, I think we could all learn from commitment and hard work no matter what the goal is and no matter if you win or lose. Your time always comes around if your still there to receive it of course.

  2. Lexis Lloyd says:

    I absolutely loved this article! It may have some thing to do with the fact that I am truly passionate about sports! Such a great read! First of all, we have to give these athletes and coaches major props. UCONN has established such high credibility due to their ongoing success throughout the years! I remember idolizing their team and it even inspired me to play. They were the team to beat. When you heard someone mention women’s basketball, your initial association was UCONN. There was no question about it. Unfortunately, women’s sports do not always get as much credit or notice as men’s sports, but I truly feel that UCONN basketball put women’s sports back on the map. Especially this year with their 100th straight victory! That is unheard of! It is truly impressive and I personally believe it makes you appreciate the work that these players are putting in. And then we have the G.O.A.T., Tom Brady. Do we really even need to say anything else?! I think his Super Bowl performance said enough! And then we got my girl Serena Williams! Just a straight up beast! The list of amazing, talented athletes could go on and on. These athletes deserve to be praised for their talent, drive, and continued hard work. I enjoy seeing these athletes succeed and perform well. I can’t lie though, I always love a good upset when it comes to certain things. I would never want UCONN to break their streak, but I do love seeing some of these underdogs take down the big teams during March Madness. It’s just part of the game. It’s thrilling and keeps you on the edge.

  3. Scott Blount says:

    Very enjoyable piece! I’m old enough to remember when Geno was the up and coming young guy who has his eye on leading his UCONN program in the quest to dethrone the late, great Pat Summit and her Tennessee Lady Vols. Sure, Geno gets his pick of the absolute elite high school players each year and therefore has an absurd amount of talent to work with, but winning that many consecutive games and championships is unbelievable. You expect an off night, bad luck, or something like the flu taking out half the team for at least a game to derail the streak. Hasn’t happened. We’re definitely living in a time with some of the greatest of all time, with UCONN, The Hood/Brady/Patriots, Federer, and the Williams sisters (especially Serena). I know my father despised the Celtics, Yankees, and Notre Dame football, because as he said, “they win all the time!” I guess the Yankees are a bit different in that they simply have more money to spend on their players, which you could say helps just a tad! They should be ashamed of the World Series drought they’re currently on! 🙂 People just get tired of the dominance of sports teams and players when it’s not their team or favorite player. It’s jealousy and envy. When the SEC won 7 consecutive football national championships and 8 of 10 between 2006-2015, many folks from outside the SEC’s geographical footprint despised the success and praise the league received. During the past 11 years, those three years when FSU, Ohio State, and Clemson this past year won the national title, there was much celebration that mighty SEC had fallen. It goes even deeper and to a personal level. Tim Tebow helped Florida win 2 national titles during his 4 year career in Gainesville. He won a Heisman Trophy and never got into any trouble. Basically, he was the model student-athlete and human being. Not even counting those people who despise him because of voicing his Christian beliefs and faith, many people hate the guy simply because he seems to nice, too good. If Tebow ever gets in trouble or gets caught up in any scandal or controversy, you’ll no doubt see many folks out there rejoice!

  4. Sharon Pyles says:

    Great post, very enjoyable and informative. I’m not much of a sports fan/buff but I do know that these fantastic accomplishments certainly deserve more than the occasional “nod” that they get in the media. Unfortunately, what has been pointed out is true, what catches people’s eye is the more explosive incidents that happen. These individuals/teams with sustained success don’t get the recognition they deserve because it’s not attention grabbing enough.

    I’m not sure if it’s human nature to poo-poo these successes but it is certainly becoming the norm in our society. And that’s a crying shame. We could all learn very valuable lessons from their work ethic, dedication, and perseverance. However, those aren’t the aspects that make money, and one thing is for sure, our society is driven by money. Not the things that make us better citizens and humans.


  5. Toyia Barnes says:

    Very inciteful. There is one statement that truly resonates with me. “It’s not just about becoming great for a game or a season. But sustained success? A lesson is there for any of us who want to truly learn and apply what it takes in any walk of life”. As a mother of three, I truly believe in this life lesson. Sustained success is a powerful statement. At school, business, nonprofits, and public agencies, your goal is to be successful most of the time. Yes, we will have the occasional fumble, and that is okay. We are human. However, It is important not to turn our nose away from those that have accomplished that sustained successful life. Awesome post.


  6. Erica DeVane says:

    It’s often harder to manage success than failure as losses can bind teams together more so than the wins. So, for me, teams and players with sustained success are truly the great ones. Greatness, however, extends farther than the players on the field. When the status remains quo, teams are in a good position to maintain success. However, as you mentioned, this gets harder and harder to accomplish given age, injuries, and free agency among others. As you highlighted, coaches often lead their teams to continued success. In this respect, front office management and coaches should be just as impressive as the players on the field for a team to enjoy sustained success. Every organization evolves independently and great teams evolve by building a foundation for sustained success. And, we all want OUR teams to enjoy this level of success – just not those other teams. So why the push back on greatness? I think you already said it – better ratings.

  7. Melissa says:

    I absolutely love this story for more than one reason. I have always had a problem with participation trophies in sports. I am competitive by nature and can honestly say that those trophies are enabling a generation of losers. The goal to winning was to be the best, to have worked hard and earned it, and knowing when you held that trophy whether as a team or an individual, you EARNED it. I love underdog stories because they usually have fought their way out from under the usually hardworking teams that have managed to get on top and stay there. But each year is a new year and as lady luck would have it, she really doesn’t do anything other than give people something to talk about. The athletes that have put in the hard work, dedication, practice and effort deserve to win. Conditioning is all part of the plan. Two of my sons show livestock. They know that sometimes judges have their favorites but that should not stop them from doing their best. Ribbons are won in the barn by the amount of hard work and practice that they put into it. If they put the work in, they will eventually earn their spot in the winner’s circle.

    • B Penn says:

      I found that Simon Sinek’s comments on the Millenial Generation address this quite well. He notes that self-esteem was a pervasive and overvalued dimension of parenting to the parents of Millenials. Participation trophies and the like are just manifestations of this phenomenon. The thinking was that everyone deserved to feel good about themselves regardless of actual accomplishment. Self-esteem was king.

      Critics have pointed out that he paints that generation too broadly. Yes, he probably did, but he also probably captured the general trend quite accurately.

  8. Iwilcox says:

    This was a great post and I really enjoyed reading. I surely agree with you saying that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I fee we should take notes from these players as well. There hard work, commitment, and dedication has got them to where they are. People who are on the outside looking in will always speculate and give their opinions on how these individuals can do better or how they aren’t as good as they were the year better, or how they seem to have had set backs, but when it is all said and done, no one knows the struggle it takes to get to where they are. I don’t know a lot about sports, but I do know that anything worth having is worth fighting for and that it is not easy to always get the wins you have to put in the work.

  9. Obediah Hall says:

    As a die hard Pats fan, I couldn’t agree more. What separates great from everyone else and this is true no matter the sport or the player, work and dedication. Mr. Brady is usually the first one to practice and the last to leave, often working extra reps with his receivers in order to make his reads seem automatic, checking off from one to the next, sure that when needs be one will be there for him because he is there for them. Like the College Basketball coach John Calipari said, “we all win as a team and we all succeed as a team.” Now with golf and singles tennis, the team is your support staff, caddies and coaches but pretty much everything else your shoulder to shoulder in the trenches or paint fighting it out. Pressure will either turn you into a diamond or dust.

  10. Brad Gernazian says:

    At 25 years old I understand that there are a lot of people out there who have seen a lot more sports than I have. But during my 25 years I have loved sports the entire time. As I have my views as a fan have changed. I used to hate the favorites (USC in the 2000s, New York Yankees, Tim Tebow’s Gators, the list goes on), but as time has gone by I have started to appreciate teams and people who are able to be the favorites. These people have put in an unfathomable amount of work into their craft. UConn, Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Federer, Venus, and Serena are all examples of these types of people. Lebron James also deserves to be on this list. Say what you will about him, but he is the only player in NBA history who is capable of going to any team in the NBA and automatically making them a contender. At this point in my life I enjoy sitting back and witnessing the greatness of these athletes.

  11. Amber Grant says:

    I loved reading this post and I think it’s my favorite one. I feel that those who continue to do great things showed be recognized. They should not be penalized or have less of a limelight because they continuously are great. These athletes and persons put in a lot of hard work and to be at the top and to remain at the top they have to keep working hard. No one should hate because someone is awesome 99.9% of the time when they do something they love.

  12. Gabe Frisbie says:

    Great Points here

    Growing up in Michigan and being a lions fan has always made me a Tom Brady fan on Sunday after I watch the lions lose. The amount of focus and drive that Brady has shown is unbelievable.

    Next is UConn me being a basketball coach I realize the incredible record that he has put together on the highest stage. Going undefeated? For some who do not realize the travel and preparation, this seems unfathomable. Sometimes we would travel 8 hours to play on Thursday night only to have the next day to travel another five hours after a game and practice to play on Saturday. The turnaround and their success just on that alone is incredible.

    Tennis is a different beast as all I only know about it is that you have to stay focused to beat your opponent for often times 2-4 hours. Imagine exhausting yourself for every point for 4 hours straight.

    Great post and viewpoints.

  13. J. Lambert says:

    I have the utmost respect and admiration for all of the athletes mentioned in the blog. I enjoy watching sports and do not play any sports at this time, but I cannot help but wish sometimes that I could do what many of these athletes do out of sheer awe. I think that many people feel the same way, but unfortunately, sometimes turns into jealousy and envy which is not good. People that allow the jealousy and envy to creep in become “haters”. Unfortunately, we live in a world where there will always be “haters”, but like the old saying goes: Make your haters your congratulators”

  14. E.B. Sands says:

    When reading this article, the first reason I thought of for the resentment you described is, “Haters.” People hate greatness because it’s the opposite of normal. The average person has either yet to figure out what it will take to transcend their lives to a higher level, or have been introduced to numerous opportunities to grow and evolve, yet haven’t taken the necessary effort or sacrifices to go beyond the level they are currently at. So to see groups or individuals truly achieve levels of excellence, it’s a human reaction to reject it. It hurts to be happy about it. You don’t often see successful people hate on other successful people, because they understand the sacrifice it takes to reach similar levels. Children look up to these great feats because they don’t understand failure and underachievement. People learn to “hate” as they grow up and life gets complicated.

  15. scwoods23 says:

    I really enjoyed reading this blog post. I believe that if a person continues to go on and be great, then they should be recognizes throughout every aspect. Why should they be put down for going out and being successful? The majority of these athletes have busted their behinds in order to get to where they are today and do believe that should be counted for something.

  16. Athletes risk their lives to play the game that the love. It’s sad that hate and scandal will follow them quick than praise and recommendation but that’s the world we live in it feeds off negativity. I believe when a major game is played and won their should be major recommendation on every single level.

  17. Brian Rice says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post as I am a major sports fan. To be completely honest, I am not a fan of any of the individuals that were mentioned but I can still admire their greatness. One thing I have been seeing lately is arguments from former players complaining that these new athletes are selling out and forming “super teams”. We are currently seeing this play out in the NBA Finals. However, I have a completely different view on the subject. I am also a big fan of Kentucky Basketball and year after year I see Coach Calipari recruit the top players in high school to the university. What I have learned through the years is that building a team of the top athletes does not necessarily equate to success. A coach has to be able to convince the players to buy in and put the team before themselves. This is not always an easy task to accomplish. I think this is another great lesson to be learned from our athletes.

  18. Kade Bell says:

    I really enjoyed this post being a die hard sports fan and a former college athlete.I won a conference championship in college and it was one of the best feelings in the world! The hard work and dedication it takes is unbelievable. The Athletes you mentioned have done that at the highest level multiple times.and the greatness in that is truly why they have “Haters”. Anyone that can dominate and be great for that long of a period is always going to come with some backlash and jealous type people. Like you said people love the underdog but nothing is greater than being at the top consistently. Greatness is what sets them apart from being normal and people need to respect the work that they put in!

  19. Melany says:

    Like you said, everyone likes an underdog. This is one of the many reasons why people harp on perfection. Are they cheating? Is that how they are doing this every year? Maybe. But maybe not. They may just be ‘that’ good! Perhaps they’re ‘that’ good plus people are intimidated by them. This gives them an additional advantage. Being feared throws competitors off their game. Not only do people fear the competitor but they also fear never being quite as good as their competitor. Not trying is easier than trying and failing and trying and failing and trying and improving. But really, how did they rise to the top? By doing just that.

  20. Amanda Ellzey says:

    I loved this blog entry! I’m not a huge sports fan, but I feel I am obligated to know what is going on because my husband loves sports. He definitely does not discriminate when watching.
    I believe the championships, matches, and races are won with 90% dedication/experience and 10% luck. The divine universe allowing everything to happen at the wrong moment. Bottom line: you’re never going to be a winner if you don’t practice your skill. These athletes do not wake up naturally talented. They are out there, every day, working on their butts off on their skill and perfecting it niche by niche. These athletes sacrifice many aspects of their life to obtain the greatness they achieve.

    I’m not quite sure why everyone is hating on Tom Brady. The man is a beast, legend, and all out talent superstar. He is 100% dedicated to his craft and that is why he is the best in the business. I honestly do not understand why the Patriots have so many haters! I mean c’mon people… why would you not the best of the best going to any sort of championship? There is no such thing as participation trophies in sports – you’re either good or you’re not. End of story. Of course the underdog scenario is awesome to watch play out, but I would still prefer to have the best of the best entering the ring at the end of the day.

    We should all implement the dedication and hard work these athletes portray into our daily work routine. Maybe we would find success far greater than we ever expected and would quit focusing all our jealously on people who are go-getters!

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