Middle age basketballBy ROBERT STEDMAN,
So my son looked at me the other day and asked why I quit writing in the Northside Sun. He even admitted that he enjoyed reading my ramblings. And now that he's officially a teenager, I have to embrace anything I do that's likeable. So welcome to this column. It's been over a year.
Now I gotta come up with a topic. Can you believe I started writing for this paper in 1999? And back then, I usually gabbed about government. Do you really think I wanna touch that topic? I'd rather write about the mating rituals of a sea turtle. So how about basketball? That's pretty random, huh? Let's do it.
A little over a year ago, I read a blurb in the church bulletin about conjuring up an adult basketball league. I like the word "conjure" because it means to "call upon (a spirit or ghost) to appear, by means of a magical ritual." As a Catholic, I would clearly need some Holy Spirit help to motivate me to run up and down a gym floor. My 44-year-old frame hasn't really moved in a shifty way since I tore my ACL two decades ago. And the last time I played this sport was during my Mississippi State days, and I'm pretty sure that had something to do with beer and cute college girls. It's amazing what you'll attempt to accomplish when those two things are in the mix.
So the night finally arrived and it was time to join the other parishioners for some basketball. I was gonna need my athletic ability from 22 years ago to help me at a sport that I never really played. In other words, I was gonna need the other players to be pretty bad if there was any chance at me looking pretty good. Well, that wasn't the case. Let's start with the awesome father/daughter duo, and how she was the best shooter on the court. What about the priest that put this all together? Well let's just say, I didn't predict Fr. Larry Bird. Yeah, he was good. And then there was the older fella that could spin the ball off the backboard from any angle. I could go on and on about the rest of us, but we were basically a mixture of old and young, male and female, with soaked shirts and lots of long water breaks. It was perfect.
If you read my columns, you should know I rarely miss a chance to make fun of myself. I have to be honest though, other than a gimpy knee, I'm in pretty good shape. With that said, there is an impressive difference between a 22-year-old body and a 44-year-old body. And running up and down a basketball court will point that out. And it didn't take too long before I discovered that my mind and movement were no longer in sync. There was definitely a delay in the brain-to-body communication. I almost ate a section of gym floor as I figured this out. And there was no longer beer to drink and college girls to impress. Nope. For this husband/father, it was all about getting wise with my abilities. Using brain over brawn. And fast breaks to score soon became medium-paced breaks to score. I also learned that I had absolutely no issue with subbing myself out of the game. Rest was more important than activity.
Now after all that's been said up there, let's conclude this column with a little Q & A. Am I good at basketball? Not really. Do I care? Nope. Do I hurt after two hours of doing something my body hasn't done in 22 years? Would raiding my wife's bubble bath supply answer that? Oh, and the next day I had muscles that were sore that I didn't know existed.
Are you wondering, after reading that, if I regret running (medium-paced jogging) up and down a basketball court? Absolutely not. I don't care if I'm good or bad. It's just fun. It's camaraderie. It's a bunch of ages and abilities coming together to laugh and make fun of each other. To make fun of ourselves. And we really need more of that in this world. So if you're reading this and happen to be a member of St. Richards, come join us while we're still able to move. Just holler at me or the church office for the night of the week we're playing. And come swat my shot and we'll have a laugh. We need more of that today. A lot more.
Robert Stedman is a Northsider.