March Madness

Appropriately this month is called “March Madness.” It must be because there are so many basketball games on TV. The NCAA National Tournament starts with 64 teams and whittles it down over several weeks. I think the month gets its name because it drives many spouses mad.

The history and intent of the game is interested. In the winter of 1891-92, Dr. James Naismith was a young “physical education instructor” at Springfield College. To relieve his students of boredom he set about to devise a winter time indoor game that would be as interesting as football in the fall and baseball in the spring. That is the PC version of the origin of the game.

In old photos of Naismith there is in the background a sign over the entrance to a building: “School of Christina Workers.” It was there the game began. It was the “International YMCA Training School,” the forerunner of Springfield College.

Naismith was an ordained Presbyterian minister whose job was not to relieve boredom but to train leaders for the rapidly growing Sunday School movement and the YMCA. Both movements had as their common objective to teach Christian principles and build character.

The first basketball league consisted of YMCA teams playing each other. Y leaders first opened gyms to provide an alternative to saloons. In 1895, the dominant holistic concept of a balanced life was symbolized by the Y in the form of a red triangle representing three sides of human nature: physical, spiritual, and mental.

The diverse Sunday School movement continues to train persons in the Word of God. Unfortunately the meaning of the “C” in YMCA has virtually been forgotten.

God has raise up a young man who has revived the purpose for which basketball was begun. Caz McCaslin, a young man I pastored through out his youth, has developed an ever expanding program called “Upward Basketball.” He is the modern day Naismith.