What Kentucky Basketball Taught Me About Unrealistic Expectations

3 years ago

My not so great picture of the UK Championship Banner

I’m a Kentucky Fan. I was bred to have unrealistic expectations. Take this basketball season for instance. I knew this would be the year we added another championship banner to the rafters at Rupp. We have one of the best coaches in the game, all the money a program could want, the best home court advantage and the highest ranking recruiting class in the history of UK basketball (and maybe all of basketball history). The deck was stacked in our favor. However, we ended the regular season being nudged out of the #25 after being #1 preseason. We had a 22-9 (12-6 SEC) record.

Going into the SEC championship these are very unmet expectations.

Monday, after our final regular season game, my favorite Kentucky Sports News Site posted an article titled: “Is Five Minutes of Life Enough To Save The Season”. I read it, convinced like all other UK fans, that this season was a joke. We lost 9 Games, 3 of which are to #25 ranked teams. It’s time for football season.

In a fleeting moment of clarity, I had to laugh at myself and at the ridiculous expectations I had. You see, because I expect UK to win national championships, I believe all loss is unacceptable. Because Coach Cal makes more money in a year than I could imagine spending in a decade, I expect he will turn a bunch of 18 year old guys into mature, selfless team players before the season starts. I expect perfection from my team- there is not room for losing or any lessons to be learned.

What unrealistic expectations to put on the shoulders of guys who are barely out of high school!

I can’t help but wonder if the weight of the expectations of Kentucky fans are a part of what is holding this team back. Sure, believing big things is important, but at a certain point big things cross the line to just plain ridiculous.

I promise this post isn’t about sports.

I realized that Kentucky Basketball is not the only place that I have unrealistic expectations. I often place unrealistic expectations on the people and things in my life including myself and the Lord. It’s really hard to see the good work that God is doing in, through and around me when I am caught up in looking for what I expected to see.

Something said during the message yesterday at church really resonated with me. The message was about singleness and the pastor addressed some common lies singles believe. He talked about the lie of “The One”. This is the lie that there is one person made exactly for you to find, which is much like looking for a needle in a haystack. One of the reasons he said this is such a bad lie is that we get so wrapped up in our idea of “the one” and the list we make of what we want in our future spouse, that we miss God’s idea of the one.

That’s the danger of unrealistic expectations in any area of life- whether dating or basketball. That we are so wrapped up in looking for what we expect or want to see that we completely miss what we need to see. Unrealistic expectations cause us to hold to an absurd expectation of perfection that is not only impossible but also maddening. Where there is perfection there is no room for grace. 

As I reflected on my basketball expectations, I thought about how much freedom there is in releasing unrealistic expectations. When I let go of my very high UK basketball expectations, every game won can be celebrated rather than taken for granted. When we let go of that which is unhealthy and unrealistic we can open our hearts, minds, eyes and ears to the work that God is doing around us. Our vision can become clear and unimpeded by narrow minded distraction. Our lives abound in grace. I want to live a life that celebrates every win and where grace abounds. This starts by releasing the distraction of unrealistic expectation.

Don’t believe me? Ask the Danes.

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