Have you ever wondered why it's called "March Madness?" It is one of a few nicknames for the NCAA College Basketball Tournament that determines a national champion for the season. The event features 63 games over the course of two weeks.
There are three additional college basketball tournaments in March: women's NCAA tournament, along with a men's National Invitational Tournament (NIT) for selected teams that are not in the NCAA Tournament, and the Women's National Invitational Tournament (WNIT). Could it be that the nickname "March Madness" refers to the fact that there are 220 televised college basketball games played over the course of about three weeks!?
Maybe it is the idea that an unlikely team from a little-known school can, and has, defeated a nationally ranked team that was expected to win it all? Big teams, number one seeds, have been knocked out of the tournament by 15th seed teams that surprised everyone -- including themselves!
Or could it be that Brent Musburger, in the 1982 tournament, borrowed the term which had been used in reference to the Illinois high school state basketball tournament that began in 1904 and earned its nickname in 1939 in an essay titled "March Madness" by Henry Porter, executive secretary of the Illinois High School Association? Porter saw this mad rush to the top of Illinois basketball as a positive distraction; "a little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.''
The attraction for me is the possibility of seeing a "David" defeat a "Goliath." March Madness puts some lesser known teams and specific athletes in a spotlight that they ordinarily do not experience. Viewers may see teams and players who flew under the radar throughout the entire season, but whose talents will be displayed and appreciated over these few days. The big teams and the star players receive press and accolades often, so I enjoy seeing the undervalued step up their game and receive some recognition.
I suppose that is why Easter holds such special significance for me. Jesus Christ died for my sins, was dead and buried, and on the third day rose again to defeat the power of sin and death, yet, His sacrifice was not reserved for the wealthy, the talented, the intelligent, the powerful -- no, it was for every person of every race in every age, with no regard to merit. He loves me -- and you -- not because of who we are or what we do, but because of who HE is: God IS love. How do you respond when the spotlight of His grace shines on you?
Steven Callis is the minister at First Church of the Nazarene in Douglasville.