It’s March madness season! Who’s at the top of your bracket? Front runners like Duke and Kansas, or do you hope for another year of upsets?
Every year millions of people tune in to games, fill out brackets and cheer on their teams.
Sports tend to bring us together like very few other things in our lives. We spend hours of our childhood in the front yard throwing and kicking balls or just simply running around.
As we get older, these little games grow into team sports; we might play tee ball, elementary soccer or small unorganized games of basketball.
What began as a pastime of our childhood becomes the team-building exercise of our middle and high school years.
If we don’t make those teams, we spend our Fridays sitting in the bleachers, popcorn or nachos in hand, cheering for our friends.
At Bob Jones University, we pack our friends into a small sedan and drive for seven hours down to Pensacola to watch the Bruins take on the Eagles.
Weekends are spent watching games in the residence halls on laptops and smartphones or at friends’ houses on flat screens and projectors as college football, professional basketball or Premier League Soccer matches become the fuel of conversation at work, at school and at church the next week.
I remember in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs were playing the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.
Nov. 2, Game 7, Wrigley Field. I had two roommates, one from Chicago and one from Cleveland. We had a projector in our room showing the game, and after nine innings and a rain delay, our room was packed. Cubs score two runs in the top of the 10th; Cleveland scores one.
The Cubs had won the World Series for the first time in over 100 years, and my packed room in Smith 122 was buzzing with excitement. The camaraderie sports bring into our lives should be celebrated, but it could come at a cost.
Competition makes us emotional. Emotions are not a bad thing. They make us cheer louder when we’re at home games, and they inspire us to pull for the underdog rookie who has had an outstanding season. But when those emotions get out of check, problems arise.
What happens when the referee makes a mistake? We erupt at the various screens we’re watching and then spend the next days, months or even years complaining about that one call. “If that ref had called a foul, we would have won the game,” we say.
As believers, we’re challenged by Paul to bring our bodies under subjection, and that includes our emotions.
So, this March, let’s not sit around mindlessly watching the Madness. Instead, let’s engage in mindful self-control and truly enjoy the competition.
That’s how my roommates did it in 2016. After the game they shook hands and just enjoyed the athletic history unfolding before them.