Why We Love March Madness


Do uou really need any more madness? I mean really?  I mean, who needs any more madness? You would think that what you have is plenty enough, with room to spare.  With the job and the kids and the bills and the boss and all of the other stuff you’ve got on your plate, who needs any more madness?  I’ve got a crazy job and a crazier job situation (I’m looking, but you are too, right?) and I’m trying to multitask with more irons in the fire than you can shake a stick at. But the answer is crazier than the question. The answer is just a little more madness. March madness.

Somehow and for some strange, mysterious, mercurial reason, the weather in March and basketball in March are bosom buddies. Both are fickle and variable. Both are arbitrary and capricious. Both are warm and fuzzy one day and cold and callous the next. And we love and hate them both, depending upon  the day of the week.

Yes I love March Madness, and you do too.

Today is bright and sunny but it’s also cold and windy. The sky is blue but the air is icy. The trees are trying to bloom but old man winter doesn’t want to go away, just not yet. And that’s sounds just like life. We live in a world full of contradictions and ambiguities and paradoxes and enigmas.  Every day and along the way, our task is to trust God’s process, for His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Our task is to trust that the mystery of Godliness will somehow, someway work out for our good.

Am I talking about life or about basketball?  Good question. In other words, sports and life are one in the same.

This time of year, college basketball teams that we don’t think will win are upsetting higher seeds. This time of year, powerhouse teams that we picked to go far in the tournament are heading home after an unexpected and hurtful first round defeat. It’s called March Madness, and for good reason.  Case in point, a school called Loyola Chicago just won in dramatic fashion. Never heard of ‘em? You have now.

Yesterday in a wild and fircely contested first round NCAA Tournament game, Donte Ingram hit a 3-pointer from the March Madness logo (on the court) just before the buzzer, lifting Loyola-Chicago over Miami 64-62 in a Thursday thriller to celebrate its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 33 years.

Ingram’s long shot from well above the key came after Lonnie Walker IV missed a free throw with a chance to give the Hurricanes a three-point lead with 9 seconds remaining.

The 11th-seeded Ramblers (29-5) matched the school record for wins from their 1963 national championship team in their first NCAA trip since losing to Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the Sweet 16 in 1985. They advanced to face third-seeded Tennessee on Saturday.

Loyola was boosted by a pregame prayer from its team chaplain, 98-year-old Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt. She’s held that post for more than two decades and, sitting courtside in her wheelchair, got hugs from the Ramblers when it was over.

“I said we wanted to get that big W up there, and we did,” she said in a postgame TV interview.

The sixth-seeded Miami Hurricanes (22-10) led most of the second half in their third straight trip to the tournament, but couldn’t pull away in the final minutes and lost in the first round for the second straight year.

And so the lesson is clear. If you think you’ve got too much madness in your life, think again. Just look around and compare the weather report with what’s actually supposed to be happening outside. They don’t add up. And that should calm you down and pick you up and help you understand that what you’re going through is nothing compared to the madness all around you.

Every year, the games of the NCAA Tournament remind us of how blessed we really are. Just like the 64+ teams that make it into the tournament field, we are blessed to be invited to the big dance. And winning is icing on the cake.

So let’s be thankful for the little bit of madness that we have. Just think — you and I could have a whole lot more.


What’s Wrong With The Cleveland Cavaliers?

LeBron James is not happy.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Isaiah Thomas, aka “I.T.”, from the Boston Celtics in the 2017 offseason, they knew it was going to be a while before the crafty ball-handler was well enough to play, as he was still recovering from a hip injury.

After enduring seven months of rehabilitation, Thomas made his Cavs debut on Jan. 2 in a 127-110 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, scoring 17 points in just 19 minutes of playing time. He’s had some good and bad games since then. In fact, the former Washington Huskies stand-out has been the Cavs’ leading scorer in each of their last two games. However, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, the team is growing a bit wary of Thomas, and for good reason.

The chemistry between LeBron and I.T. just isn’t there, and the Cavs have appeared to be disheveled and disinterested in recent loses.

So what’s the problem? More importantly, what’s the solution? But first things first. In sports and in life, we all know that you can’t fix something until you know why it’s broken.

Will the Cavs trade Thomas? Maybe. Or LeBron? Not likely, especially since he has a no trade clause in his contract. Oh well. The circus in Cleveland may well leave the door open for Boston to win the East. Maybe.

The Philadelphia Eagles Overcome Everything!

Nick Foles Lombardi TrophyThe Philadelphia Eagles overcame everything that was thrown their way in route to winning Super Bowl LII in a wire to wire thriller.  They overcame injuries and insults and insolence and indifference.  They overcame being underdogs and afterthoughts and from being dead last in the NFC East a season ago to coming back from way back to shock the NFL World in 2018 on Super Bowl Sunday Night.

No one, and I mean NO ONE, picked my Eagles to defeat the evil empire New England Patriots (except maybe Randy Moss). But every other so-called “expert” in the field of professional sports picked the Pats to win in a laugher.  But they were wrong.

The Eagles lost their star quarterback Carson Wentz and their vitally important All Pro Offensive left tackle Jason Peters (remember “The Blind Side?”) and their defensive leader Michael Kendricks along the way.  They finished dead last in the NFC East last year (did I say that already?) and were picked to do the same this year.  But that was then and this is now.

There are so many redemptive stories on this Eagles Championship team. But the story of Nick Foles takes the cake.  Nick Foles emerged from the shadows and proved the doubters wrong as he played better than even he may have expected in the playoffs to give Philly their first Super Bowl win, ever. And how sweet it is! 

Here’s what the New York Times had to say about Nick Foles winning Super Bowl MVP honors:

“Three weeks ago the thought of Foles being named the most valuable player of Super Bowl LII would have seemed ludicrous, but after watching the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback crush the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game, and then essentially match that performance against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, the choice seemed obvious.” Amen to that.

Nick Foles taught us how to endure and persevere and hang on in there. Yes Nick made a difference, but his teammates believed in him and in the power of “TEAM” as well.  For everyone out there who’s thinking about quitting (Nick Foles did) or giving up or listening to what everyone else is saying, hold on just one minute. The motto for the Eagles this postseason was this; “one can make a difference, but a team can make a miracle.”  And that’s it; that’s the answer.

The Eagles had a miracle season and a miracle Super Bowl and got miraculous plays from players who believe in miracles. At the end of the game, when they needed one defensive stop — just one — they got it, just when they needed it most. The Eagles got a strip-sack-fumble of Brady by Brandom Graham which bounced right into the hands of Derek Barnett. But to seal the deal, they needed yet another stop, and they got it: a deflected Hail Mary prayer of a pass to Gronkowski fell harmlessly to the turf.  Thank God!

And miracles still happen because we still believe in the power of hard work and teamwork and working and believing together. The Eagles just won the Super Bowl when they weren’t supposed to. And along the way, they overcame everything Brady and everyone else threw their way. 

Jesus overcame everthing. He overcame death, hell and the grave. He was in all points tempted, and was yet without sin. And He said this to us:

In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.

With Jesus, we can overcome everything, too. We can overcome past pain and present strain. We can overcome the hurt of our dark history and the disappointment of unfulfilled destiny. We can overcome factual failure and fictitious fears. We can overcome everything.

So let’s learn from the Philadelphia Eagles. Let’s overcome everything. Everything people say and everything we do. Everything. Let’s overcome every disappointment and every defeat; every hindrance and every setback; every letdown and every putdown; every difficulty and every disadvantage; every big thing and every little thing. Everything.

The Eagles Super Bowl LII win once again proves that we can in fact overcome everything.  And so, my friends, as we celebrate with the Eagles and Philly fans everywhere, let’s determine that with the help of Heaven, we will overcome everything!

All For One and One For All

We love sports because the concept of team is embedded in our inner being and lies at the core of every human concern. Unity and solidarity and community and congruence are the essentials of teams and teamwork. It has been said that there is no “I” in team. Amen. A really good team has a corporate identity that transcends and supersedes individuality yet even lifts each individual together.

Successful teams are selfless and not selfish. Teams that focus on the whole, not the individual, will win. Teams that focus on individual talent at the expense of the team invariably and inevitably lose on and off the court. It’s that simple.

E. Stanley Jones puts it this way: “Gordon Alport, professor of psychology at Harvard, said that ‘paradoxically self expression requires the capacity to transcend oneself and the pursuit of objectives not primarily referred to the self.’ Here psychology and Christianity collide. Jesus said that ‘he that findeth his life shall lose it and he that loseth his life shall find it’. Self cultivation is allright and very necessary provided the self has been surrendered, and the surrender must be to God. Then it can be cultivated for it is God centered and not self-centered.”

That’s why so many people love Carson Wentz. Yes he’s disappointed that he’s not playing but he’s shown by his selfless actions in helping Nick Foles that he’s all about the team. And that is also why Brady and Belichick have so many haters. They seem to put themselves above the whole, above the team. Yes they’re good, but what about everyone else? The sum is greater than the individual parts. That’s how God intended it to be. You need look no farther than the Trinity for the Divine example.

All for one and one for all. Each member pulling for each member, and every member in fellowship with the entire membership. This is the motto we should all ascribe to fulfill.

Why Philly Fans Are So Excited!

Ben Simmons Dribbling

Giddy and giggly, exuberant and expectant can’t come close to describing the state of Philly fans everywhere, but these descriptive words are the best we can do. Philly fans are currently in a near state of euphoria.  And you know why.

Sports in Philly has gotten superciliously silly.  First, our Eagles won the NFC Championship Game in grand fashion and are going to the Super Bowl! Not the Cowboys, nor the Falcons and not the Vikings. The Eagles, baby!

Sports Fans in Philly are over the moon.  And for good reason.  The Eagles are going to the Super Bowl. Did I say that already?  The Super Bowl!  The defense looks great and Foles has never played better. So all systems are go and all hopes are riding on the faith that Foles and the “D” can do it again, and against the vaunted, New England Patriots, at that.

And, to make matters even better, our beloved Sixers are the hottest team in the NBA, next to the Golden State Warriors.  Both teams are 8-2 in January. Eight and Two! Ben Simmons, everyone’s favoirte for Rookie of the Year, is playing lights out and racking up triple doubles night after night. AND, the cherry on top of it all is that Joel Embiid is an NBA All Star Game starter!  Wow. 

Now, we just need the Flyers and the Phillies to step up to the plate and hit home runs, too.

So here’s a message to all Philly fans everywhere; let’s learn another life lesson. Let’s learn to be moderate and temperate, even keeled and steady handed at all times and in every circumstance. Let’s learn to endure the hard times (we have) and enjoy the good times (we are) and not get too excited or overly extended in our behavior.

Oops – too late!

Your Dreams Are Your Ticket Out

Kotter_Gabe Kaplan

TV Shows in the ‘70s were the best. And they had great theme songs. One of my favorites was the opening song for “Welcome Back Kotter.” This was a great, family friendly sit-com (they don’t make ‘em like they used to, right?) starring Gabe Kaplan as a wisecracking high school teacher in charge of a racially and ethnically diverse remedial class called the “Sweathogs.” The show also featured John Travolta in his television debut.

Welcome Back Kotter Group Pic

The show is all about redemption. Redemption for Kotter, redemption for his students, and redemption for the viewers as well. Kotter came back to his high school and gave back to the same kids and same place that he somehow succeeded from.

His comeback was a dream come true.

Your dreams are you ticket out. It’s a great song with great truth.  Dreams, for the most part, point to the future and forewarn or foretell of impending tragedy or imminent triumph.  Biblically, while most dreams are relegated to the OT, the prophet Joel does say that in the last days “old men shall dream dreams.”

Joseph, the son of Jacob, dreamed that his brothers and even his mother and father would bow down to him. And his brothers hated him for it. Because of his dreams, his brothers sold him down the river, and he ended up in Egypt. After being falsey accused he landed in jail. But as Providence would have it, he eventually interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. As a reward for predicting the future, Joseph became second in command in Egypt and was in charge of storing up grain during the good times and distributing grain during the bad times.  Meanwhile, back home in Israel, Joseph sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, from, who else — Joseph, and thus Joseph’s dreams became his ticket out.

And your dreams can become your ticket out. So what are you dreaming? What are you believing God for? What do you desire? What do you long for that seems like its light years away?

My Philadelphia Eagles are dreaming of a Super Bowl Win.  For the Philly faithful, winning the Super Bowl is more than a dream — it’s like heaven; it’s a real place, somewhere out there, over the rainbow. We know it exists but we just can’t get there right now.

But that can all change this year. With a little Wentz and with a lot of hard work, this can be the Eagles’ year.  And it can be your year too. So keep hope alive.  And keep hoping. Keep trusting. Keep believing.

And may all of your dreams come true.

UNO! a.k.a., Claim Victory, Because Victory is Now


I pick the Dodgers vs. Yankees in the 2017 World Series.

 That’s right. Let’s renew and revive an East Coast, West Coast, “Left” Coast, “Right” Coast rivalry one more time for ole time’s sake. Could it be Boston vs. Chicago or Colorado vs. Houston, or the Nationals vs. Cleveland? Nope. It could be, but it won’t.  

How do I know you ask? Sometimes you just know. Sometimes you just have to go ahead and say what you see even before it’s actually audible or visible. Don’t wait until others see it, especially when you saw it first. Why? Because the Victory Is Now. Now is the time to decree and declare what you desire and determine to be your destiny.

And how about Super Bowl 51? Who ya got? I know only a fourth fraction of the season has been played, and this is only the quarter pole, but remember, the victory is now. That’s why I’m picking my Eagles (pronounced Iggles).

 My Eagles can win Super Bowl 51 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on February 4th. That’s right, you “heard” it and read it first right here at http://www.Godandsports.net. My Eagles “can” win, because they’re just that good, and they’ve got room to get a whole lot better. Braggadocios, you say? An arrogant overreach? An overconfident overstep? Not if you understand the power of your words.

 The winners of the 2017 World Series and Super Bowl 51 played in February (I miss January Super Bowls – remember them?) must declare victory now. Before the first pitch of the playoffs and prior to reaching the pinnacle of America’s pastime and before they play football in December when it really counts, victory must be decreed and declared.

 In order to win in sports and in life, we need to decree and declare victory now. Because you can have what you say. In fact, you will have what you say, because you reap what you sow (Galatians 6:7). In fact, you will reap more that you sow, because of the principle of seed time and harvest. Seeds multiply. And multiplication always get’s you back more than you put in. So be careful what you put out, because just like in the card game UNO, it is most certainly coming back. The prophet said that if you “sow to the wind, you’ll reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7).

 Don’t get cynical on me. Some say that you don’t get everything you say. That may be true, but you won’t get anything you don’t say. Right?

 If you want to win, talk about it. Dream about it. Sing about it. Shout about it. Because your words will carry the crib or the coffin of your dreams. And you can kill a baby before it blooms and you can also revive a corpse even after its doom.

 So stop speaking doubt and downfall, because if you speak it, you’ll reap it. When you speak health and life, those words are the seeds that will eventually produce your harvest. Speaking in generalities never works. Saying maybe and perhaps and if and I wish I woulda coulda will get you exactly that. Somewhere between first place and dead last, which is nowhere with nothings to show for it. If you don’t get definite and decisive with what you want, that’s EXACTLY what you’re going to get. So watch what you say and be careful with what you speak.

 Just remember faith without works is dead, so you need to put your aim into action and match your desire with determination.