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Yes, losing can hurt enough to cry

March Madness isn’t always One Shining Moment. There’s crying, too.

This thoughtful N.T. Times blog post by former Notre Dame player Zach Hillesland explains why the last loss hurts so much. It’s not the losing, but the finality. And sometimes, there’s crying. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Seniors don’t (or at least shouldn’t) cry because they lose. At the end of the day, it’s just a game, and there was always only going to be one winner. The fact is, most players and most teams have semi-realistic expectations by the time the tournament arrives as preseason hype and expectations have given way to results and tournament résumés. In other words, if you’re a 16 seed breaking down over a loss to a No. 1, then you’re in serious need of professional help.

The real reason they cry is because they go from feeling like it’s the middle of their careers to knowing it’s the absolute end, all in the span of one 40-minute game. The end brings the wave of emotions that was both built up and suppressed for the past four years. This is the last game I’ll ever play with my friends and teammates. This is the last time I’ll play for my school. This could be the last time I’ll be part of a team. What is next?

I get that. It’s not just the end of college. It’s the end of what the majority of the last four years – sometimes five – were spent doing. No more teammates. No more support staff.

The upside? There’s the rest of your life to enjoy. But in the moment, they’re not thinking of that.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.