March Madness Special – Final Four Edition


Well, championship weekend has arrived for all you crazy NCAA basketball fanatics out there.  This year’s tournament has been pretty entertaining, and has had enough big upsets that many brackets around the country are busted.  As we look at the final four, there are some intriguing side notes.  There is the battle for, not only a championship game birth, but also college hoop bragging rights for the state of Kentucky.  Kentucky vs. Louisville should be a decent match – I do believe that Kentucky is still the team to beat and will win game 1 by 8 or so.

I find it a little harder to pick the other game – Kansas and Ohio state were both #2 seeds in their brackets.  I live in a Big-10 city, so I have heard all about the greatness of Ohio State.  But for the same reason, I hear about them as the “enemy” a powerhouse in the conference, and so it is hard to want them to be successful.  On the other hand, Kansas is one of those program that always seems to be an elite program.  I guess that makes sense when you consider that the program’s first ever coach was none other than James Naismith, inventor of the game of basketball.

Naismith is in the Basketball Hall of Fame

In college, I wrote a paper on Naismith and the history of basketball.  Naismith was a Canadian living in the US, who invented a game that could be played indoors in the cold winter.  It is a game that went from imagination (inspired by a kid’s game called “Duck on a Rock”) to  it’s humble beginnings of peach baskets and a soccer ball, designed for recreation (Naismith said that better exercise came from

The first game of basketball at the Springfield MA YMCA

Gymnastics and wrestling) all the way to what we know today – slam dunks, ally oops and Lin-Sanity – a sport played by over 300 million people worldwide.  Naismith was a Canadian, working at a YMCA in Springfield MA when he dreamed up basketball.  He saw sport as a means to tell others about Christ.  Here are a couple of articles to check out if you want more information about Naismith and his Faith in God.

Wall Street Journal  article on Naismith creating basketball as a means to draw young men from the community in to tell them about Jesus.

kusports.com has this article about Naismith, “Muscular Christianity” and the legacy of basketball.

And here is what Wikipedia writes about  “Muscular Christianity”

The idea of using sport as a means to share your faith with others and let them know about God’s love and grace is at the heart of why I started this blog in the first place.  I am encouraged by the stories of athletes who see God at work in their lives and want to let others know how important God is, not just in what they do on the field, but who they are off of the field.

So, with the final four starting today, I want to take this chance to thank James Naismith for dreaming up this game that is so entertaining to watch and fun to play – every March it captures the attention of the sport loving-culture of North America.

Landen Lucas, after committing to KU

And I also want to take a moment to tell you about an incoming Jayhawks player – Landen Lucas.  He has just finished up

his senior at Westview High school in Portland Oregon.  He has committed to Kansas University and is excited about putting on the Jayhawk jersey in the fall.  Read an interview that Lucas did with Jesus N’ Sports blog here.  He will start at Kansas next year. Here is what you can expect to see from him on the court.

 

 

So enjoy the games today, and the championship on Monday Night.  I expect we will see Kentucky edge past Kansas on Monday to cut down the nets as NCAA champs.  Enjoy the great game of basketball, and thank God for the heart behind the man who invented it.  May God be glorified in the lives of all His children – no matter what field of work/play that He calls them to.  He is able to use anything to His glory.

christop

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