Skip to main content

You are here


Game Changers

Practice Management

Fans of Virginia, Arizona and Purdue, take heart (not to mention Stanford and Indiana in the women’s NCAA). 

My college team didn’t make the NCAA tournament this year.

Not that that’s unusual. They (DePaul University) haven’t been “there” since 2004. And in all honestly, it’s been a long time since they were a force in that tournament.

They got as far as the Sweet 16 my senior year — and then there was that magical year of 1978-79 where they made the Final Four. It was harder to make the tournament then — fewer slots (just 40 then), no “play in” round, and DePaul, as an independent (then) didn’t have a conference winner slot “reserved.” Beyond the sheer passage of time, you could be excused for not remembering that run — they would wind up losing to Larry Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores by a bucket, putting ISU into that final contest with Michigan State’s “Magic” Johnson (where they’d lose by considerably more than a single basket) — on their way to one of the NBA’s great rivalries (and one amazing Super Bowl commercial). 

But I think it’s fair to say that those who have been paying attention to college basketball (or at least the rankings heading into the NCAA tournament) witnessed some amazing performances. Perhaps the biggest (thus far) was the Fairleigh Dickinson Knights’ (a #16) defeating the heavily favored Purdue (a #1 seed). And to be fair, with no disrespect for their victory, I doubt that Fairleigh Dickinson would prevail in a three out of five, or perhaps even a best of three series. 

That, of course, is the “magic” of these tournaments (and the women’s has had nearly as many upsets this year) — it is the prospect of upsets — the reality that, on any given night, any team could beat any other team, be it by fluke, an untimely foul-out, a key player having a “hot hand” — or one that all of a sudden can’t “buy” a basket if their life depended on it! March Madness, indeed! 

Uncertainty may make for exciting sports contests, but it surely doesn’t do much to assuage concerns about the markets generally or retirement security specifically. Like the heartburn that one gets as your NCAA pick sheet gets wiped out by upsets, watching one’s retirement savings buffeted about by rumors that might (or might not) be true, by financial system issues that may (or may not) be related, not to mention the persistent inflation that may (or may not) have set all of the aforementioned issues in motion. And for those who are trying NOT to worry about such things, we have headlines like “Don't Make the Same Mistake as SVB With Your 401(k).”

In the world of basketball — or life — sometimes you’re prepared to take on one team — and another one shows up. Good coaches know how (and when) to call a time-out, to reset the plan — and sometimes just to affirm and recommit to the original. 

Times like these are why participants (and plan sponsors) look to professionals — to help them understand what’s happening, to explain how/if it’s impacting their retirement plans (and their plans for retirement) — and, perhaps most importantly, to provide guidance on what changes, if any, to those plans are required.

But what the recent uncertainty (and here this also applies to those “busted” NCAA tournament pick sheets) reminds us about an uncertain future is just that — and why the need to save for an uncertain future is sometimes the only certainty we have.

These critical moments can be game changers — for us, and those we serve.