The Glory of God in "March Madness"

By: Dan Wetzel
Speaker & Personal Coach

For many, March is the recognizable month each year when winter gives way to spring, snow showers become rain showers and students celebrate Spring Break…but for others the month brings forth something entirely different – March Madness.


Beginning in March and concluding usually the first weekend in April, the NCAA Men’s Division 1 National Basketball Tournament is held with a selection of 65 teams all vying to be crowned National Champions!


Madness or Sadness


According to the Chicago-based job counseling firm Challenger, Gary & Christmas, over 1 billion dollars will be lost this year in worker productivity, with an estimated 37 million participants involved in wagering money from small office pools to online gambling to large casino bookies in Las Vegas.


Additionally, one survey reports that approximately half of all participants in this year’s office pools will spend at least 30 minutes completing their tournament picks.


Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 6:21 (NASB) “…where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”


For many college basketball enthusiasts who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, spending five dollars in a silly “office pool” is done with ease, while yet others participate in many different pools thereby enhancing the probability that their bracket selections will prove to be winners and not losers.


God-centered Priorities


Forget - if you will allow me to - the argument of whether “gambling” is morally right or wrong or whether Christians should participate in “office pools.”  Let me assume for a moment that many professing Christians are indeed among the 37 million participating in an office pool this year.  Let me assume that many followers of Christ are also among the many who contributed at least five dollars to an “office pool” and spent at least 30 minutes working on their picks…With that said, let me now ask another question.  How much time was spent reading the Scriptures or memorizing the Word?  Oh brothers and sisters, I know how easy it is as basketball fans to get caught-up in all the drama and excitement, consumed in reading team statistics, player bios or listening to expert analysts break down each game while previewing the next.  But how much money was spent giving to missionaries spreading the Gospel message, building churches and sacrificing their lives for the cause of Christ?  How concerned are we for the well being of the missionaries that fight on the front lines while we sit on our big chairs, in our big houses watching our high-def plasma screens in digital surround sound?  Yet, we justify our actions how?


Do we truly understand that over the course of the 3-week tournament, tens of thousands of children around the world will die due to starvation and or disease?  Do we fully comprehend that just five cents can produce 100 Gospel tracks in India?  That means that the five dollars spent on a bracket selection could equally produce approximately 10,000 gospel tracks for a willing native missionary to share the message of Christ’s power over sin so that times of refreshing may come to a sinner who repents (Acts 3:19).


Do you remember the story in Acts 3 where Peter and John go into the temple for daily prayer and as they enter they heal a man lame from birth?  If you continue reading through the story into Chapter 4 you will find the authorities questioning them for an explanation as to where the power to heal came from?  In doing so, they recognized Peter and John “as having been with Jesus (4:13).”


Something radically changed in their approach to life, in the boldness of their witness.  Why?  Namely, because they had been with Jesus


When denying self, crucifying the flesh and following Christ at all costs is replaced with a love for basketball, then basketball has become a god.  When the game is consuming your time, mental energies, conversations and keeping up with scores is more important than compliance with Scripture, then basketball has become a god.  If the first thoughts on your mind in the morning are to rush to the television, turn on SportsCenter and catch all the highlights from the previous day or night’s games, then maybe basketball has become an idol in your life?


Oh that we as basketball fans would care about what matters most to our Heavenly Father… His Glory and His Glory alone!  How can we say we love Christ more than anything else and yet our actions, our conversations and where we spend our money totally contradicts and thereby discredits our verbiage?


My prayer this post-season tourney is that God would rule supreme in our hearts and lives and we as the bride of Christ would return to our first love.  Oh that we would purify our lifestyles and stop prostituting ourselves for earthly pleasures.  Oh that we would find our joy and complete satisfaction in the God of the Bible and exalt the name of Christ above all things!


Basketball Need Not Be A Sin


First we must recognize that enjoying the game of basketball is not sin in-and-of itself.  There is nothing inherently evil about playing or participating in the sport.  In fact, it can be pleasing to God to play basketball, if He is the one receiving the credit and glory for the ability, talent and the very opportunity to participate.


Romans 11:36 (NASB) states, “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be glory forever. Amen.”  Any talent a player has to dribble, catch, pass or shoot; any ability a coach has to teach the fundamentals and strategies of the game - all come from God.  If you have a desire to play basketball and God wills that you play, then play basketball for the glory of God.


Second, living in a country where God’s blessing have been so abundantly given and opportunities so widely afforded to us - should never cause us to feel the need to apologize or be embarrassed for the privileges bestowed upon us from Almighty God.  Any and all blessing we have are not ours because we deserve them, rather we have them because God grants them to us.  However, what God requires of us in return is that we serve Him as faithful stewards with the resources given us and bless others in the same manner to which we have received (Acts 20:35).


In other words, if God has blessed you with a desire and talent to play the game, an ability to teach the fundamentals and strategies or an appreciation to watch those who do…then simply stated…play, coach or watch – share your talent and gift with others and give God all the Glory for it!


How Can God Be Glorified in March Madness?


Here are some ways I believe we can better express our interest in the tournament and celebrate the glory of God in what has become known as “March Madness.”


1.         Where we have made basketball an idol by putting the sport before Christ in our thoughts, actions and words… Repent!  Said another way…when the Holy Spirit begins to reveal your wandering away from a Christ-centered love and into an affair-type love with the game of basketball, confess your sin to God and return to Him (1 John 1:9)!


2.         Rather than spending 30 minutes or more sweating over what teams you’re going to pick because money is on the line…spend that time praying for and then selecting a missionary or child to support through your local church and or reputable missions agency.


            Serve India Ministries (

            HeartCry (

            Wellspring International (


3.         Instead of giving money to your local “office pool” - which only ends up in the hand of the winner – distribute the tournament brackets for a “Missions” fundraiser.  All money donations received will go entirely to and directly for the work of missions around the world.  Therefore, no one person will receive any earthly monetary reward, but all whom contribute will be storing up for themselves treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).  The result…God is Glorified through March Madness!