Are You Ready For March Madness? You Should Be!

MD Terps BBall

Yeah, yeah yeah. I know. It’s still February. But March is right around the corner. And this college basketball season coincides with a presidential election year and as we all know, anything can happen.

Let’s check the political “standings,” shall we? Hilary is holding on and Bernie Sanders is holding out and Trump is winning and Bush is losing – er, what’s that? Wait, what? Bush pulled out of the race? Ohmygosh. The presidential election “preseason” pick to win it all just went down in flames. Apparently, America is in no mood for Bush III. There goes the far right republican response to the hot headed hooligan who’s running away with the popular vote; if you think what he says is “popular.” This, my friends, is politics’ version of March Madness.

Donald Trump is such a polarizing symbol. He’s become the non, negative extreme example and the pious, poster boy picture of what March Madness has come to mean to the political machine. In basketball, we’d call Trump an underdog. But he’s an apt allusion for a country that’s used to their front-runners winning and their favorites grinning and their unwanted waning and the forlorned fading into the background. But not anymore. The age of upsets has come to politics. So watch out.

All right already — enough of that politics stuff. Let’s get back to basketball. College basketball.

This college basketball season, the top seeds are falling and the bottom feeders are rising and there’s no clear cut favorite to win it all. It’s just about anybody’s race. You could argue that anyone of the top ten teams in the country can win the championship. Villanova is No. 1. Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa, North Carolina, Virginia (Virginia?), Xavier, Michigan State and West Virginia all are in the Associated Press Top 10 Poll this week, (emphasis on THIS week) and anyone of them could win it all. OK, maybe not Virginia (Sorry Cavalier fans). And then there’s my Maryland Terrapins! That’s right, MY team! Let’s Go Terps!

So, who ya got? Who’s going to go all the way and go to the Final Four in Houston and cut down the nets? It could be my underachieving Maryland Men’s Basketball Team coached by Mark Turgeon. And if 23-5 is underachieving, then what does overachieving look like? What will the Terps look like when (not if) they put it all together and they REALLY start playing?

And that’s the lesson for the rest of us. We are doing OK most of the time, but then there comes the slip up and the hiccup and the hitch and the glitch that delays our destiny. So we have to do just like my Terrapins did against Michigan today: continue to battle through missteps and mistakes and stop doubting and keep believing. In other words, just hold on. It’s not over yet. Maryland can will it all. And spiritually speaking, you and I can too.

And I believe Maryland will. So there. I said it. And I mean it. And I’m ready for March Madness. Are you?

Robert McDonnell and The Blood Sport of Politics

Bob McDonnell, Maureen McDonnell

 Bob McDonnell, Maureen McDonnell

I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27, KJV

Politics is a blood sport.  That politics is a “blood sport” is nothing new and is no new news.  But the news of a former right wing, conservative, “family values” politician throwing his own wife of 38 years under the bus to save his own neck is.  His legal defense in his corruption trial is that his wife is to blame for receiving the gifts and garb and the goodies given to them. The sad part is that in this “sport” we seem to have reached a new record low and set a new all-time high for sinister and satanic ways to win.

Sports is a give-it-all-you’ve got, last man standing, winner take all endeavor that we love and enjoy.  But when it becomes gory and gruesome, brutal and bloody, we shake our heads, turn our heads, and scratch our heads in wonder of how far and how low one will go just to get a “W.” Such is the case in the 2014 corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell.

Politics to some is “sport.” It’s the hunt they enjoy.  It’s the kill that is the thrill. The modern idiom we use to describe this blood sport is to “play politics.”  To play politics means “to engage in political intrigue, take advantage of a political situation or issue, resort to partisan politics, and to exploit a political system or political relationships.”  To play politics means “to deal with people in an opportunistic, manipulative, or devious way, as for job advancement.”  After Watergate and Iran Contra-Gate and all of the other political scandals we’ve seen over the years, this sounds all too familiar.  Surely, Machiavelli was right: “absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Playing politics is not like playing patty-cake or shooting marbles.  When you are dealing with people’s lives, and the life of those closest to you, namely the life of your wife whom you know and presumably love, that’s something else altogether.

Lest we become overly disparaging, we must remember that what has happened to Governor McDonnell could happen to any one of us.  Just ask the apple of God’s eye.

David was, among many things, a politician.  He got in over his head, went too far with Bathsheba and stopped to short by not acknowledging his sin, and the rest is, well, history.  The political scandal that McDonnell is embroiled in is nothing new. He is simply repeating the repertoire of unrighteous rigors that we all can and seem to find ourselves in.

Sports are supposed to be clean and fun and pure and natural. But there’s nothing pure or clean or fun about the McDonnell mess. And it’s only “natural” because we are all born in sin and shaped in iniquity. We are all sinners in need of a Savior. And His name is Jesus.

So let’s learn some lessons here. What McDonnell did was not for the public good, nor for the greater good; it was all for his own good and now it’s all about saving his own neck.  Instead of coming clean and repenting, he’s blaming his wife for his transgressions, and painting her and putting her in a terrible light.

And one more lesson needs to be learned: let’s not judge; let’s forgive, but let’s not forget the high price and the soaring cost of playing dirty and living loosely and the ill effect it has on us and on the “game.”