Hoops lessons for the economy

Marketplace Staff Apr 3, 2009

Hoops lessons for the economy

Marketplace Staff Apr 3, 2009


KAI RYSSDAL: The NCAA basketball tournament beings its long wind down this weekend. But another tournament wraps up tonight — the College Basketball Invitational. You’re not going to find any real powerhouses playing in the CBI. But for one team tonight, just being there is a win. And its turnaround could be seen as a parable for the whole economy. From Oregon Public Broadcasting, Ethan Lindsey reports.

Ethan Lindsey: The 60-year-old basketball court at Oregon State’s Gill Coliseum has seen a lot of basketball. But nobody expected a nearly-packed house and a high-stakes game this late into this post-season.

Outside the arena grad student Bryan Rebar clutched to his tournament tickets as if they were for the Super Bowl. He says last year’s team was tough to watch, because the school went winless in the Pac-10 conference.

Bryan Rebar: It was painful, but I came out because you are always hopeful.

After the season, the school forced out the losing coach. And hired Craig Robinson, who is First Lady Michelle Obama’s older brother.

Bryan Rebar: The connection to the White House was pretty exciting. He’s charismatic and motivational.

And that motivation is key not just for basketball, says philosopher Jerry Walls. He says Robinson’s powerful brother-in-law might want to pay attention to what’s going on at Oregon State.

Jerry Walls: A lot of what is involved in being a very successful basketball coach is motivating people. Getting people to believe in themselves.

Outside the Beavers’ locker room, after a win this week, coach Robinson says much the same thing. And he echoes a word President Obama has used a lot recently — persistence.

Craig Robinson: You have to have the discipline and the confidence to know what you are doing is the right thing to do.

Robinson says after a loss he often gets criticism. People tell him he should change the way his team plays. He says the president gets the same sort of heat when the Dow drops 100 points.

Craig Robinson: 53 percent of the people voted for him, the others didn’t. So those people are going to be detractors whenever anything goes wrong. It’s sort of the same in basketball.

Robinson says other hoops lessons, like discipline and playing within yourself, can apply to handling the broader economy as well.

Back at the game, some fans say they’re more hopeful for a possible economic recovery for the country. After all, they say, just look at the turnaround that’s taken place on the Oregon State hardwood.

In Corvallis, Ore., I’m Ethan Lindsey, for Marketplace.

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