A recent March Madness gripped us all as the finest collegiate basketball players in the country battled it out for hardwood supremacy. It was a fantastic tournament, climaxing with one of the most exciting championship games ever.
There’s nothing like the enthusiasm of amateur athletes, playing as a team, enjoying the game. From playgrounds through college, young men and women run, jump, kick, and shoot … exercising their bodies and enjoying the thrill of sports.
But there is a dark side to athletics as well. Headlines tell of agents on trial, steroids, gambling, recruiting violations, drug use, salary disputes, and on and on. Even Christian athletes have joined the parade of holdouts for multi-million dollar contracts. The once wholesome image of athletes and sports has been sullied almost beyond recognition.
The problem, of course, is deeper than sports. Our whole society is built on competition, materialism, and being Number One. Even while we watched the finest college basketball teams vie for the national championship, coaches were being summarily dismissed everywhere because they didn’t make it to the Final Four or win enough games. Even a few with outstanding careers at certain institutions were fired because of their last season.
Wouldn’t you say it’s time we got sports into proper perspective in this country? The fact is that these onetime leisure activities have become obsessions. They have us by the throat. I think sometimes colleges and universities forget that they exist to educate, not entertain. Unfortunately, money drives the university, just as it does the rest of society, and players are recruited and “paid” like other professional athletes. Their classes are a charade as they take simple courses and are passed routinely or tutored through. Then they go “hardship,” leave school early, and sign multi-million dollar contracts with the pros.
As viewers, consumers of athletic events, we play a part. We must put sports into proper perspective for our own lives. Do we realize that the World Series, Super Bowl, and so forth are not the most important achievements? When salaries, ticket prices, and abuses continue, we can boycott the stadia and broadcasts. Let’s do what we can to make sports fun again—not a madness!