Bigger Than Basketball: The Heart Behind the Madness

While watching the NCAA men’s and women’s championship games every year, one can only be inspired by the athletes’ total devotion to their sport.

They lay their sweat and soul on the line, believing and fighting for their ultimate dream. We witness the heartbreak as top seeded teams fall. We can’t help but feel emboldened by the passion racing across the court and country as the Cinderella stories emerge and the underdogs rise. The one thing that’s consistent – united they stand. As a team, the players practice endlessly and commit themselves to seamless transitions, beautiful shots, subtle glances and the game-changing moments as the shot clock ticks.

March Madness is bigger than basketball. While these teams captivate the masses with their impressive skill, they inspire the nation with their heart.

Winners Dream BMD NFTE_TH

It’s only fitting that Bloomberg would unite the global titans of business and finance with their Brackets for a Cause challenge. From Michael Bloomberg himself, Under Armour’s Kevin Plank and Goldman Sach’s (last year’s champion) Gary Cohn, more than 40 leaders submitted their tournament predictions and pledged $10,000 each – with the total pot going to the victor’s charity of choice. These competitive executives got to spar throughout the tournament – not just for bragging rights, but in the pursuit of something meaningful and close to them.

We’re writing today because we have the good fortune of triumphing in this titan challenge of statistics, performance – and a little bit of luck. As the Villanova Wildcats edged out the University of North Carolina Tar Heels in the final moments of the game, it sank in. This victory didn’t just feel good, it was going to do good. The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) will receive $420,000 to advance their mission and equip under-resourced youth with the tools and support to thrive in a quickly changing, innovation-driven economy. Together, SAP and NFTE are not only shaping business skills for high-school students around the country – we’re activating an entrepreneurial mindset that will help the world run better and improve people’s lives.

The Villanova Wildcats played with purpose and grit. They fought hard, they showed discipline, and they unleashed their indomitable will to win. They showed us the power of a dream. They inspired a nation and they inspired us. Thank you to Bloomberg for the opportunity to compete with our hearts – and to Nova Nation for leaving everything you’ve got on the court!

Bill McDermott is CEO of SAP SE; Shawn Osborne is CEO of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship

Top image via Shutterstock