I know what the haters are going to say. However, I need to tell you something. Devoted Duke Basketball fan that I am, my God is not the God of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament. I need to bow out.
The virtues of the NCAA tournament are not mine, nor are they in line with those of Jesus Christ. Though I learned to love and serve Jesus at Duke University, it was in Duke Chapel not Cameron Indoor Stadium. When my enjoyment of basketball games clashes with the observance of a holy and sacred Easter, basketball will lose every time. I need Easter. I don’t need Duke Basketball or any other team for that matter. I am in dire need of resurrection. This is the victory I crave.
Have you stopped to think about the time, effort, and money we invest in the season called “March Madness”? It’s not called “madness” for nothing. In this part of the world basketball dominates every conversation. How much time did you spend doing your now shattered brackets? Consider your television since the end of the conference tournaments. What have you watched on television more than anything for the past two or three weeks? Is it basketball? Simple interest and support can easily become an obsession. How many of your social media postings relate to college basketball? This is all fine except for one point. It means that college basketball makes it harder for us to distinguish Christian culture from the dominant culture, a culture that lives and breathes and functions quite well without God.
When the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight games are held over Easter weekend, what am I to think? THE NCAA doesn’t ask you to dress up, go somewhere for an hour, sing, and be with your neighbors. It’s good time rock and roll, feel good atheism with cell phone commercials during the media time outs. It makes no demands on how you live your life. March Madness is about worshipping at the less demanding court of definable endings and clear cut finishes. Christianity can offer neither. At our best, we provide an empty tomb and a savior still on the run.
So for this Easter, I will be watching no more basketball. I will honor my God while the NCAA honors the gods of self-serving commerce they have created. I will pray for everyone who prays for last minute shots and those in foul trouble. Not because God cares about the games but because God cares about us and our lives beyond the games. March may be mad but Easter will be Holy.