Oral Roberts Men's Basketball was almost in the Elite Eight of this year's NCAA Tournament.
They're not though. They lost by two points to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
In most years, this would have garnered a circus of attention that would even make Caligula blush. We would have gotten profiles on every player, and the life story of the head coach going back to his conception. We would have gotten speculation on sports programming day and night as to their chances in the next game. We would have gotten a cornucopia of entrepreneurial “not-quite-school-endorsed” t-shirts to wear to support one's suddenly discovered fandom of ORU (they're the Golden Eagles, by the way). Each next game would have been the hottest ticket in sports for a few moments; not “Super Bowl” hot or “Blackhawks vs Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Final Game Seven” hot, but hot.
Instead, we got pretty much nothing.
No wild-eyed speculation.
No hysteria of fandoms new and old.
You see, for the last year, we've had a different kind of March Madness going on. It gives us masks and isolation instead of a month of rabid, nonsensical cheering and camaraderie. It gives us an unending screed of “that's racist” or “that's sexist” or “end systemic oppression of concession stand hawkers.” You get the idea.
As more rational states have opened, irrational states and equally irrational universities have done all they can to remain closed. For the academics, I largely say good riddance. For the athletics, I say what a pity.
There are a lot of things the cultural and economic right don't measure up to when you evaluate their performance, but something we do infinitely better than the left is find joy in things. Simply put, they just can't do it. Some of this may be because, at heart, their ideology is one of misery and doom. They are a broken miserable people. Some of it, however, may be that they just don't know how to go about this task. The reality is that Joe Biden and the Left won the 2020 election. Whatever you, or I, or anyone else feels about the integrity of the election, the events that led up to it, or the complete gaslighting of the American public by its media neck anchor doesn't matter right now. For whatever reason, and how ever you feel about it, we lost.
These people should want to give the masses an opiate. Even if you outright despise the public who elected you, after the last 400ish days, the ambrosia of sports could have done a lot to help start healing tensions in communities. The plucky Christian university from Oklahoma with little history of championship presence that came within a few possessions of reaching its sports biggest stage is the kind of then everyone could have gotten behind, even if just for a while.
Instead the last game in the journey was played in an empty arena with little fanfare. It got only one news story—a woke bro being mad that it is a Christian school.
ORU was seeded 15th in the tournament. For those uninitiated, there are four of each seed, meaning ORU was essentially picked to finish between 60th and 57th out of 68 teams. Instead, it made the top 16.
Three years ago, I sat in a house watching the UMBC Retrievers take the floor against Kansas State in the second round of that year's tournament. UMBC had been seeded 16th, and were coming off a game that saw them become the first 16 seed to win a game in the NCAA tournament (1 vs 16 is currently 143-1, that lone loss being when UMBC won).
It was one of the strangest, hardest, weirdest points of my life. But I only remember the few hours I got to watch UMBC try to maintain history. I especially remember the crowd. It was electric before tip-off. It felt like Wrestlemania meeting the Super Bowl.
This year, we didn't really get a chance to remember what it's like to set aside political differences, and what a shame.
Because until the Left can do that, all their talk about healing is just so much smoke on a breeze.