This Truly is…March MADNESS! A Theological Reflection after KU’s Disappointing Loss

First I saw Duke fold. Then I watched Ohio State fall. We witnessed Pitt pierced. Now, oh how it hurts to write it, I have looked upon the sight of my KU Jayhawks downed by a feisty little powerhouse called VCU (no more “VC-Who” for this brave bunch!).

Oh brother, are my brackets broken or what? It seems like only yesterday that I sneered in my heart as a colleague picked Butler to make the Final Four. Now I envy him for his courage.

This is madness. And this is March when unexpected cold winds blow in and dreams are dashed.

I look at my son and seek and figure this is a teaching moment.

“What have we learned?” I whisper through my pain.

  1. PERSPECTIVE. This is just a game. This is just a game. This is just a game (continue saying this until sleep, then repeat upon waking up tomorrow and going forward until the pain diminishes).
  2. PERSPECTIVE. A KU championship is not really my ticket to personal contentment and existential fulfillment. My faith, my family and my hope for a really good recruiting season sustain me.
  3. PERSPECTIVE. Losing is necessary to find reflective moments that lead to greater growth. I just wish I could have done it vicariously through another losing team.

All of this, quite seriously, provides good entertainment. That is good. That is what it is for. It doesn’t matter that KU lost.


But it does allow me, for just a moment, to remember that there are things in life that don’t always work out the way we planned it. As I come down, even now, from the stunning loss of a favorite basketball team, I recall that I must go into a week in which I will get to preach three times, and teach two hours of lectures to pastoral students at RTS. I will have the joy, privilege and yes the burden of servant-leadership, of equipping the saints for the work of ministry, laboring for the Kingdom that will advance forward even in apparent defeat, and also for facing decisions that will again drive me to my knees.  The March Madness of college basketball is a lot of fun, but March Ministry (and every other season of life) is infinitely more important, more painful, more fulfilling, and often even more mysterious than anything sports or entertainment could throw at me. For that I give thanks and for that I cling to the cross.

So March Madness is earning its name this year. That gives me something to think about. And my own team is a by-word in this whole affair. We have experienced defeat by a courageous team who outplayed us. And it hurts. Well, at any rate, I have now done due diligence theological reflection and am ready to “move on.”

And anyway, the first pitch of baseball season is next week, right?

About Michael A. Milton, Ph.D.

Michael A. Milton, Ph.D., MPA (University of Wales; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), is an American Presbyterian pastor, theologian, and author.
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