"In one way or another all men are mad. … All the whole list of desires, predilections, aversions, ambitions, passions, cares, griefs, regrets, remorses, are incipient madness, and ready to grow, spread and consume, when the occasion comes."

Mark Twain was talking about the human condition when he wrote this. He didn't know, however, that he was really talking about the annual NCAA basketball tournament, commonly called March Madness, that two-week game within a game within the most important game of all.

The first game is basketball, the play in the arenas where young athletes from 64 teams compete for the national championship. Every team there is touched with madness. It is madness because only one of these 64 teams will actually finish the tournament a winner. The other 63 are doomed to go home with the sure and certain memory that the last game of their season was a loss. Every team there has sweated and strained and pushed to get to a tournament where there is a very high chance that they will go home losers.

The second madness is that each losing team goes home knowing, knowing I say, that if only they had done this or that in the second half, they could have made it to the next round.

The third madness is that all the teams—even those seeded 16th in their region—secretly believes that if they can get the right match-ups and play the game of the season and have a little luck, they can actually win this thing! They are coached to play one game at a time, but these are bright athletes, and they know what one win plus one win eventually leads to.

And the fourth madness is that the favorites even believe they can win this thing. Ah, but the gods can be crazy themselves, helping 14th seeded Cleveland State defeat ...

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Play Ball
From 2005 to 2007, "Play Ball" examined the relationship of sports and faith: sports is important precisely because it is a form of play, that is, a manifestation of the Sabbath. Contributors included Mark Galli, Collin Hansen, Mark Moring, and others.
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