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Life Lessons from March Madness!
The month of March ushers in one of the greatest spectacles of the year in all of sports. Throughout the month, the nation stays captivated as the 68 top-seeded College Basketball teams compete for the National Championship. Through a single elimination process, only half of the teams survive each week, down to the ‘Final Four’ and then the Championship Game.
Every week, most players are playing in what could be their last college basketball game, knowing any dreams for playing in the NBA are on the line. You could say that everything they’ve worked for their entire lives is on the line! Most play beyond their talent and wildest dreams, giving every ounce of their being to bring home the win, as we view game after game being won in overtime, with one last heroic shot. It’s madness! It’s March Madness!!!
The Question: Watching the stand out players on the teams that keep winning, builds emotional connections between viewers and players. They capture our attention for their ability to make the impossible shots, or for the character they exhibit in the midst of the emotion. While all of the players have spent most of their lives preparing for this moment, this too will pass, and then there’s the rest of their lives. What’s the take away in how they played the game of basketball, for them and for us?
Their ability to make great shots under pressure speaks to physical preparation, mental toughness and great heart, and it’s great drama for those of us who are watching. But for too many of these kids, their tunnel vision on playing basketball, rather than learning about life and building character in the process, will leave them ill-prepared for the rest of their lives. Might there be a profound learning experience about how we are to live our lives in the midst of ‘March Madness’ or the madness of our own lives.
The Answer: Sports is a microcosm for life! Life is a team sport and team players are the best players. The player who gives his all, plays by the rules, accepts the referee’s miss-calls, respects his competitors, honors his Coach, encourages his teammates, rallies his team and honors God, is a winner regardless of the ending score. Watching players react with integrity when things aren’t going well, displays their character and how God wants us to live our everyday lives.
Application: You can suggest to your unsaved friends that they can add to the excitement of watching the Championship Game, or any sports event, by looking for the players with great attitudes—the ones playing their hearts out but staying cool when the going gets hot. Most coaches want to win at all cost and implant that thought in the minds of their players. Then you have Christian Coaches like John Wooden, who won more NCAA National Basketball Championships than any other coach, who place their priority on building character in their players. It’s the difference between building winners for a game and winners for life.
Without raising eyebrows, you can mention how you look for the player who’s giving his all with great character, in spite of a missed shot, throwing an errant pass or being called unfairly for a foul. They will always stand out and almost always be Christians – like College Football National Championship MVP, Tua Tagovailoa, and Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles. They represent what Christians look like who honor God on and off the court.
Reference Quotes and Scriptures:
“You just have to know that there’s people watching you, and you’ve got to be a positive role model”
“Everyone in society should be a role model, not only for their own self-respect, but for respect from others.”
“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating.”
“I know that being seen as a role model means taking responsibility for all of my actions.”
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are.”
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12
Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
1 John 2:6
Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.