Each year, the NCAA holds a basketball tournament of the top ranked colleges in the US to determine a national champion.
This year’s national tournament, often referred to as March Madness, was unusual because Christian universities were the talk of the town as it ended with Baylor, a Christian university out of Waco, Texas, winning the men’s crown.
But it all started on a negative tone, with a USA Today columnist, Hemal Jhaveri, writing a hit piece on Oral Roberts University (ORU).
The 15th seeded ORU, referred to as this year’s Cinderella team, rose to prominence advancing to the final 16 round of the tournament. This also put a target on the team’s back.
Jhaveri called for the NCAA to ban ORU from the tournament because the Christian university did not hold the writer’s personal views on homosexuality and morality. Oddly, Jhaveri, called for the team to be banned in the name of diversity.
Stories about Jhaveri’s call to ban ORU were all over the internet with most condemning the article asking why woke politics has to be dragged into sports.
Though, ORU was knocked out, the tournament ended with Baylor University beating the tournament’s top ranked team from Gonzaga University 86-70 in the championship game.
The Baylor Bears never trailed during the final game and ironically, in the year of Christian controversy, it was also the Baylor’s first national championship and as well Gonzaga’s only loss of the season.
Baylor is a private Baptist university based in Waco, Texas, and in an interview with CBS, team coach, Scott Drew, pointed out Baylor’s motto “Jesus, others, yourself”:
“Our guys have been motivated all year. It’s a player-led team. We’re so blessed to have unbelievable upperclassmen in leadership. But we play with a culture of joy. And it’s Jesus, others, yourself. They came out, and they fed off of each other. We got off to a great start. And then defensively, we’re pretty good.”
And on top of this, Baylor’s point guard, Jared Butler, was named the final four outstanding player. After winning the award, Butler also spoke of his Christian faith:
“I’m not trying to preach a prosperity gospel, but our Lord and Savior, I say it all the time: He gets us through everything. Jesus Christ, man, He’s the truth. He was with us tonight, He was with us all season, He’s with us wherever we go. He just sustained us. He brought us together. He brought this team together — transfers, people from overseas. It’s just tremendous how it just comes and it comes all full circle.”
Now, it is easy to criticize the writer of the USA Today article, but I wonder if God purposefully allowed it to happen.
In an odd way, the ORU controversy set the stage for the Baylor win. Jhaveri’s article brought attention to Christian universities in the tournament that ended with a Christian team winning it all.
At times, God raises up antagonists.
This even included the Egyptian Pharaoh who tried to stop the Israelis from leaving Egypt. But Apostle Paul states that God had raised up Pharaoh to display God’s glory:
17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Romans 9:17 NIV)
Sometimes, those who appear to be antagonists are simply part of God’s bigger plan. It can be tough riding out the bad that comes with this, but it ends with victory.
READ: ‘Jesus, Others, Yourself.’: Baylor Coach Credits Team’s Faith, Selflessness for National Title AND Baylor Team Praises God After First-Ever NCAA Championship Win: ‘Jesus Christ… He’s the Truth’ AND: Oral Roberts stuns Gators with 81-78 win, advances to Sweet Sixteen AND NCAA Should Boot Oral Roberts Due to Biblical Beliefs on LGBT Issues, USA Today Columnist Says