I felt my entire body tense every time Butler moved the ball down the court. They had to score this time. They had to. It was just one of those kinds of games. Their battle with VCU had more lead changes than I could count, and for a guy who loves Indiana basketball, it was a nail-biter all the way.
Really, what did I care? It’s not like I went to Butler. I went to IU. I’ve never even owned a bulldog. And honestly, I’d been detached from this year’s tournament until tonight.
But once I sat down in front of the TV, I found myself totally swept up in every play. Butler HAD to win.
It made me wonder why sports seem like such a big deal. Why do so many hundreds of millions of fans eat, drink and breath their school colors? Why is it so easy to get caught up with vicarious loyalty for people you’ll never meet and schools you’ll never attend? Why I am in a good mood when my team wins, and really bummed out when they get destroyed.
I have a theory. I’m just throwing it out.
Maybe it’s because at the heart of the universe, a competition rages. Maybe two forces are lined up on a field, and they’re fighting for every point.
And maybe, whether we like it or not, we’re swept up in this high stakes game, and somewhere deep inside we know it. We know good versus evil is real. We know that behind our mundane routine something cosmic is going down.
We know that one team represents things like abused wives and killer tsumanis and kids with cancer. But on the other team is Someone else. Someone unbelievably good. Someone who is all about life and love.
Every day is a fight. And we’re in the game.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t really get my head around a world where invisible forces battle over the outcome of my life. Maybe that’s why I root for competitions I can see. Maybe that’s why sports matter to me, why they matter to many of us. Maybe every time we cheer on our favorite team, we’re rooting for the good guys to win. The REAL good guys.
As I’m writing this, my friends in Kentucky are nervous. The Cats are down by ten. It doesn’t look good, but anything can happen before the end of the game. By the time you read this, you’ll probably know the final score.
My wife’s dad was a diehard UT fan, and she told me that when he developed a heart condition, he had to tape the games and could only watch them after he knew who won.
Life’s like that.
Sometimes we almost can’t take the stress of how it’s all going to turn out. But fortunately for us, someone’s taped the end. The Bible says that one day, the sky will split open and the game will be over. And the winner? That’s no longer in question.
He made His big play 2,000 years ago when He walked out of his own tomb. Kind of tough to compete with skills like that.
By the way, now, UK is only down by one. Funny the difference a few minutes can make.
In the end, God really will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain because the old way of things is going to pass away. And all the longing and loss and garbage in our lives that didn’t make sense will be made right that day.
That beautiful truth gives us hope and a spirit of perseverance to hang on tight to God until the very end.
In the mean time, cheer on your favorite team. Wear their shirts with pride. Slap on some face paint and make a fool of yourself on a jumbotron screen. If I happen to be right, we were made for it.
What a wonderful column.