Move! Set a screen! Pass the ball!
“Move!” “Set a screen!” “Pass the ball!” These combinations of words probably serve no meaning beyond a basketball court, yet they are so common in such a setting. I believe in the power of pick-up basketball. Not the way the game is played, necessarily, but in its ability to allow the development of relationships between different people, despite their race, gender, or age. This realization came to me two summers ago, as I was getting ready for my 8th-grade year. During this momentous time, thoughts of finishing my middle school career strong were riddled with endless lectures on the importance of high school. My refuge through all this clamor, meanwhile, was basketball.
The great aspect of this sport is that one doesn’t require any special equipment to play it. All they need is a ball and themselves. As a lover of the game, I often played in my backyard or in the parking lot usually by myself or with my younger brother. As it is evident just from this short anecdote, I didn’t socialize much outside of school. However, I soon began to take the sport more seriously and used it as an excuse to get away from the stifling containment of my home. I was ultimately lured to the basketball courts at Arcadia High School.
At first glance, I saw numerous courts filled with numerous types of people. There was a group of elderly men playing on one court, while a band of 6-year olds swarmed another. Phrases such as “I got next, pass, shoot it” all filled the air, as games free of buzzers, referees, and complex rules got underway. Meanwhile, I wandered over to the one open court and began shooting. As I was entranced in my own routine, I was interrupted by a call to play in a game of 2 on 2. I accepted the request and was rewarded with buckets of amusement, exercise, and newfound skill. But as I went home that day, I never realized how those moments, which had left the minds of the players by bedtime, would translate to a more significant bond between a larger group of people. As the summer wore on, our group of 4 eventually transformed into 8, then 10 and finally 12 people. We didn’t care that it was too crowded to play or that school was fast approaching. All we wanted was to hear the swish of the net.
However meaningless it may seem now, those pick-up games at Arcadia High School allowed me to let go of all my thoughts and worries, while I was able to focus on winning. And even if I didn’t walk out as the victor, I was likely to reminisce on the cordial experience that I had. Nowadays, we rarely find the time to do the activities that we once took pleasure in. Excuses concerning homework, volunteering, and a number of other stressful tasks all escape our mouths so easily. Yet while these are completely valid reasons, they detract us from making new friends and sharing those moments that we treasure and yearn for.
With each hobby comes different forms of content that fulfills different people. Nonetheless, every activity has the opportunity to turn an overwhelming day into a thrilling moment. While so many burdens are thrown at us left and right throughout our day, something as simple as a 2 on 2 can allow us to let go of our troubles. This I believe.