The Real Loser of The Sweet 16 Game

It has been several days now. I didn’t want to write this post because it applies to me way too much.

Louisville, Kentucky is a basketball town.

We don’t have a professional sports team. The recent success of our football and baseball teams has helped to broaden the horizon for our fanship but Louisville is still a basketball town as much as Kentucky is a basketball state.

Living and growing up here there is one division that really separates people. Though there are some racial, socio-economic, territorial, religious and political lines that keep people divided, the largest line is the one separating our schools, UofL and UK(Why we spell them like that, I don’t know, it’s ingrained).

Some people have referenced this era of the Louisville/Kentucky Rivalry to be by far the best. Some people call it the Cal-itino era referencing the coaches Rick Pitino and John Calipari. The clashes of teams have brought some amazing games and as well has happened to produce a national title and final 4 for each. As well UK may produce a national title this year to accompany their final 4 they have achieved(beating UofL in the process).

When UK lost in the opening round of the NIT, many UK fans were sick as they watched the Cards bring home a national championship last year. When UofL lost to UK in the recent Sweet 16 game many UofL fans were(still are) feeling that same sickness.

Why do we hurt?

You won’t walk into a home in the 502 area code and find a statue of Russ Smith or John Wall that people bow before daily and offer penance to. There will not be daily offerings given in their name for remission of sins. But something I have realized about my heart and life is that when I am not careful, these sports teams and athletes can easily become idols in my heart.

When my joy is found in the success of the University of Louisville/Kentucky and I am in despair when they fail me, they have become my idol. We don’t like to admit this and I have heard it before but my actions are my barometer, I was tore up to see Louisville lose to Kentucky. I was feeling sick, angry and disappointed. My idol was revealed Friday night and though I don’t want to admit it, it needs to be fixed.

What do we do?

The idol had taken a spot that should only be filled by Christ and him alone. It’s easy to say I won’t watch anymore basketball when it’s march and your team has lost. It’s harder to say, “Christ, I’m gonna fill my life with you and not get caught up in sports anymore.”

My good friend Jared Swopshire has taught me the most about this. He is a former Louisville basketball player that I always expect to be enthralled with all things UofL. Nope. I can talk to him about the team and stuff and though he loves those guys, he isn’t caught up in the hype of the seasons anymore. But ask him about a young man who wants to know Christ and he lights up with joy, excitement and passion that I mostly just show in the last 2 minutes of games.

All I will say now is that I am gonna strive to be that man that is no longer giving in to the idol of sports. I will learn to gladly turn the TV off and play with my kids in those last two minutes of the game. Congrats to each person with each team but I have realized the teams I need to be committed to, That is Christ’s Kingdom and my family.

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