I was there for the madness

At 9:30 yesterday (March 22) I received the email.  I had just finish reading the Bible and praying.  Was there a connection?

The email said two tickets were available for March Madness (for my foreign readers and non-sports enthusiasts, that’s the college basketball tournament) that evening in Philadelphia.  I wasn’t particularly interested in the two games.  The first game was a #15 seed vs. a #2 seed and the second game was a #7 seed vs. a #10 seed.  I thought, the 1st game will be a blow out, but the 2nd game should be exciting.

Sherwood Brown FGCU

I got the tickets, and text-ed my son Nate at school, “Interested in going to the Madness tonight?”  I’m not on a text plan (that text cost me 25 cents), and I have an old dumb phone where you have to hit the “7” button four times to get an “S” to appear in your text.  I don’t send a lot of texts.  Nate knew something was up.  (I almost extracted Nate from school, but then he would have been disqualified for the National Academic Decathlon competition that he and his HS team will participate in next month.)

We would be close to the Madness, sitting in the front row in the lower corner section (the person I was getting the tickets from had connections).

Of the four schools playing I knew something about three of them.

The late game: San Diego State (#7) vs. Oklahoma (#10).  I attended a  national youth conference in high school with my church (Evangelical Free Church) at SDSU, which ironically had a reputation as a party school.  SDSU was a beautiful campus near the beach.  Growing up in Ames, IA I secretly thought that going to Oklahoma for college would be more than OK because the Sooners always crushed the Iowa State in football.  (The Cyclones crushed the Fighting Irish last night, which I picked.)

Eddie Murray FGCUThe early game: Georgetown (#2) vs. Florida Gulf Coast (#15).  I knew that Georgetown was a great school with a great basketball team, but I had never heard of Florida Gulf Coast.  The reason I hadn’t heard of them is that the school was a virtual whippersnapper in the college world.  It’s first alumni didn’t graduate until 1997 (only 16 years ago).

The game would feature a teen-aged David (FGCU) vs. the Giant Goliath Georgetown.

I said to the folks sitting next to me, “This game will be a blowout.”  Yes, a blowout of sorts.  They won by 10 (78-68), but were ahead by a lot more in the 2nd half.  They, being “David” aka, Florida Gulf Coast.  I know Harvard beating New Mexico was huge (#14 over #3), but this was bigger.

FGCU was the most exciting basketball team I’ve ever seen.  Check out these slams.  

Afterwords, I shook the hands and congratulated two of the stars: Sherwood Brown (24 points, 9 rebounds and dreadlocks) and Eddie Murray (9 points, most of these were on 3 monster slams).

After I told him I was there for “The Play”- Stanford vs. Berkeley (1982) and “The Final” – Federer vs. Nadal at Wimbledon (2008), my friend John Franke started calling me Forest Gump.

So, next time you have extra tickets to a sporting event and you want it to be memorable, who are you going to call?

King James on a bike

I don’t like the Miami Heat.  I like the Philadelphia 76ers.  Last year the Heat beat the 76ers in the playoffs.  I like the Chicago Bulls.  Last year the Heat beat the Bulls in the playoffs.  I don’t like the Miami Heat.

While I was watching the Heat play the Bulls today (I watched about 20 minutes), the two ESPN announcers (Jeff Van Gundy, Mike Breen) said that LeBron James rode his bike to work that day.  What?  King James on a bike.  Apparently, he does this frequently since traffic is bad in Miami.

James states, “Biking is an extremely important part of my training routine.”

I ride my bike to work.  Traffic in Hatfield (PA) is almost as bad as Miami.  My commute isn’t too bad, normally 4 minutes by bike, 3 minutes by car.  But if I’m biking to the seminary when the 15 mph school zone light is flashing outside St Maria Goretti school, I pass a lot of cars.

Me and LeBron.  I feel a bond with the King.  Go Heat!

Do you like the Heat?  Do you ride a bike?  (If the answer to the 2nd is yes, don’t you think the answer to the 1st should be yes too?)

What’s really impressive about Tebow

In case you’ve just come back from Mars, Tim Tebow is the quarterback for the Denver Broncos.  And he’s a Christian.

You may be sick of Tebow, but I’m still excited about the Broncos massive upset over the Steelers last weekend.  Since John Elway went to Denver, I’ve been a Broncos fan.  (I went to school with Elway.  No, we weren’t friends.  If you beg, I may tell you about our “interaction.”  I was there for Elway’s last game for Stanford against Cal when the band came on the field and the trombone player got smacked.  But I digress…)

Much is made of Tim Tebow’s Tebowing prayer pose.  But I don’t see what the big deal is about that.  Athletes in all professions have been pointing up to heaven after a touchdown, a three-pointer, a home run, a checkmate (well, perhaps not a checkmate).  Giving credit to God publicly in sports isn’t new.  Tebow just has a different way of doing it.  It’s like a new touchdown dance, only religious.

Tebow’s had a great year and time will tell whether Tebow makes it to the Hall of Fame.  But from the perspective on his faith, what I find most impressive is how gracious he’s been toward people who hate him publicly.  The guy has loved his enemies.  And as commands of Jesus go, that’s got to be one of the hardest.  It’s also one that supposedly Christian politicians routinely don’t follow (check out some of the new campaign ads).

Tebow has been raked over the coals by sportswriters, bloggers, comedians, Saturday Night Live, etc.  And he laughs and responds positively every time.  If the Broncos win the Super Bowl (all things are possible…), his positive attitude towards his detractors would still be a greater victory than the ring.

What do you like or not like about Tim Tebow?  (I don’t like that he went to Florida.)