Editor’s Note: March Madness is a United States basketball tournament. It is to college basketball as the World Cup is to soccer.
By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
What determines who won March Madness? Was it the most points scored? Was it the most money made by coaches and schools? Was it the TV ratings for a network? Was it the clever commercials? Was it Warren Buffet? Or could winning really be something else?
If it was the most points scored in the final game, UConn won the March Madness. If it is the most money made, the coaches and schools won, but the players lost. The four coaches in the Final Four are making an average of $3.1 million from their schools and will together make over $1 million dollars in bonuses covered by their contracts. It is estimated that each school who played in the “big dance” received a $1.5 million benefit. The NCAA could be a big winner as sports in college is an $11 billion business, twice as big as the NBA, larger than Major League Baseball, and unparallel to the NFL!
The TV ratings were “off the charts.” A network has to pay millions of dollars to get the rights to telecast the games. Warren Buffet was a genius when he offered a billion dollars to anyone who could submit a perfect bracket. I prided myself of knowing something about basketball and joined 12 million other people in filling out a bracket. I was already planning how to spend $1 billion!
I had to quickly change my financial planning after the fourth game of the first round. Ninety-five percent joined me after the first day. Before the first round was completed, everybody’s bracket had been busted – even President Obama. Buffet got a lot of free advertising.
I propose that the real winner was not UConn, or the coaches, or the NCAA, or the network, or Warren Buffet. All of these concepts of winning are very temporary. They will be forgotten pretty quickly. Real winning is what happens in the long run – the real big win – eternity!
I propose that Baylor won March Madness. That is right – the Baylor Bears. Nobody expected them to even be in the tournament. But they are the real winner. Jim Denison cites the following facts about Baylor from FOX Sports Southwest report entitled: “Baylor’s ‘extraordinary’ season has left lives changed.”
It begins with the Bears’ loss to Kansas February 4, 2014, their seventh defeat in eight games. Head coach Scott Drew stopped one of the team chaplains after the game and said, “We may not win another game this year, and I may be a horrible coach, but if any of these guys leave without knowing Christ, that will be the real loss.”
Later in February, Kenny Chery, Baylor’s starting point guard, sat down in a hotel to talk to shooting guard Brady Heslip and assistant coach Tim Maloney. The two helped him give his life to Jesus. “I felt like I was a new person,” Chery said afterwards. “I felt like everything I’ve done bad in the past is gone. I’m starting new. I’ve accepted God into my life. The next morning I woke up, thanked God for waking me up, and I just had a whole new outlook.”
Taurean Prince plays forward on the team. On February 14, he told a chaplain he was miserable and didn’t want to live according to his plan anymore. The two prayed together, and then Prince invited Jesus into his life.
On February 25, 2014, Taurean Prince and Kenny Chery and three other players were baptized. Baylor lost in the Sweet Sixteen, but Coach Drew calls this his most important season ever. “Winning the game of life is a lot more rewarding than a 40-minute basketball game that’s so temporary,” he says. “To have an opportunity to help be a part of an impact on a young person’s life is the best feeling.”
The Baptist Baylor Bears (wish they were Methodist) cut down the most important nets and turned March Madness into March Gladness!
John Ed's posts appear each Thursday in For His Glory.
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