After undoubtedly the most thrilling finish in the history of the NCAA basketball tournament, I remembered my personal stories of hoops heroics (i.e., coming off the bench to sink crucial free throws against Tyronza in 1986; converting a five-point play in OT to defeat Marmaduke in 1988) before ultimately concluding that nobody cares except me. This is true because I have tried on multiple occasions to express the greatness of my shining moments to my sweet wife who loves me very much. And she surely doesn’t care.
I, along with an inestimable number of fellow human beings, dreamed of doing what Kris Jenkins did in Houston on Monday night: deliver the game-winning shot in the biggest game in front of the entire world. How many kids on sun-filled playgrounds, in sweltering gyms, in lonely backyards, in their wildest dreams, lusted for such a moment? How many of us still do?
What makes a college student tossing an orange ball through a metal cylinder twice its size from ten yards away such an object of deep admiration? What is it about the tournament itself that would cause a television network to invest $10.8 billion dollars for the rights to show it to the world for fourteen years?
It is madness. To be specific, March Madness.
I am convinced that it runs far deeper than the human desire for entertainment; instead, it is an inherent longing for significance. We all want (at the very least) one shining moment. In Kris Jenkins, we find a representative of our desire to come through at just the right time for the force of good (sorry Tar Heel Nation, just a metaphor) and be a hero. That way, the world will not soon forget us, we think. Springsteen singing about glory days and all that.
Is it terrible of us to think this way? Well, it obviously can be (we can start with, um, Hitler), but I do not think that the quest for significance is necessarily terrible at all. At least I hope not, since we are all infected. For just a personal sampler, it is surely that part of my brain that causes me to post on social media how far I run, or check the number of “likes” on a Facebook post, or look at how many people read my blog. Surely I’m not alone in this. We all want to do something worthwhile.
The real question is: What is the measure we use to gauge significance? Since the answer to that question determines everything else, it deserves some pretty serious reflection.