Winning attitudes: on, off field

Will Thomas

As some of you may be aware by this point in time, our football team had the opportunity during our winter break to go to Pasadena, Calif., and win the 13th national title in our school’s history.

While it’s great that we won the championship, it’s just as important to remember how our team got there. Our team didn’t get to the game and win by using flashy plays that garnered lots of attention or by talking boastfully about their hard work. Our team, led by head coach Nick Saban, got to the game through hard work, dedication and a humble focus on building each other up as a team. There were no flashy PR campaigns, no self-built hype, no Bible verses on eye black. Our team just got out on the field and did what they were supposed to do in order to win games. Plain and simple.

This is why, when I read a Dec. 18 UA News article entitled “Students from UA, UT Show Community Spirit to Help the Homeless in Pasadena,” I couldn’t help but chuckle.

While it’s probably not instantly humorous to most, I found it funny because while we admire and respect our football team, and particularly admire Saban, it seems as though our Student Government Association hasn’t quite learned what it means to actually work hard towards a goal without simply expecting rewards.

When I was a freshman, a good friend of mine was a junior who was involved in the Student Government Association in a high-level position. We had gone to Chicago together for a conference, and while we were getting food encountered a homeless man begging in the frigid, windy cold. Without hesitation, he offered to go inside and buy the man a hot sandwich and a drink, a transaction which took place quickly and we were on our way very soon after.

There were no cameras around, no press release or article in The Crimson White (other than this one) about it. He just did the right thing because it was the right thing to do, not because it benefitted his future political career, not because he needed to alleviate his guilt for being born into a well-off family, not so he could feel better about himself. He did it because a man was hungry, so the right thing to do was to feed him. Plain and simple.

In the article on Dec. 18, SGA president Steven Oliver was quoted as saying, “… As students at the University of Alabama we are committed to not only serving people in the Tuscaloosa community, but people beyond Tuscaloosa as well …”

While his words are kind, and I know for a fact that that the project was not solely one put on by our student government, I would like to go ahead and call Oliver’s bluff.

A person who is genuinely dedicated to serving other people does so in the same way our football team wins a football game — doing the right things at the right times, working with focus and humility as a team, and definitely not declaring victory before the game has even begun.

If the members of our Student Government Association were so dedicated to community service, it wouldn’t take an event such as a national championship game or disciplinary actions to inspire them to help other people. And, in the instance that they felt so inspired independently, it wouldn’t be an event riddled with photo opportunities, nor would it be one that required press releases and CW articles. It would just be people doing the right thing at the right time, with focus and humility. Plain and simple.

There’s a quote attributed to the legendary Bear Bryant that reminds me of this whole situation. He said, “Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things.” Maybe it’s time for our Student Government Association to focus on the plain, simple and little things that benefit everyone instead of the big opportunities to build political capital for themselves.

Will Thomas is a senior majoring in economics and finance. His column runs bi-weekly on Wednesdays