Believe in the power
I believe in the power of pick-up basketball. Not the aspect of the game, necessarily, but in its ability to build relationships among 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 always riddled with endless lectures on the importance of high school. You know the feeling of senseless agony whenever your parents open their mouths to enlighten us on a topic they’ve covered for ages? Well, I have experienced this time and time again and basketball has been my one refuge.
The great thing about this sport is that it doesn’t require any special equipment to play the game. All one needs 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 you can see just from this short anecdote, I didn’t socialize much outside of school. However, I soon began to take the game more seriously and used it to get away from the stifling containment of my home. This escapade ultimately led me 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 invaded 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 at the basketball courts would translate to an even bigger bond between a larger group of people.
As the summer wore on, going to the courts became a regular. Our group of 4 eventually transformed into 8, then 10 and ultimately to 12 people. We didn’t care that it was too crowded to play or that school was fast approaching. During those periods, I was able to focus on winning the game and let go of all my other thoughts and worries. And even if I didn’t walk out as the victor, I was likely to reminisce on the cordial experience that I had. Ultimately, my friends and I were able to form a community built upon friendship and amusement. Almost every day, I played with those who I came to consider my friends. All the while, I was able to dedicate myself to the game and enjoy myself greatly. 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 things all escape our mouths so easily. While these are completely valid reasons, they detract us from sharing those remarkable moments with our friends and family and can result in the fracture of certain bonds and relationships. To me, it’s very important to uphold these values and morals to continue sharing pleasurable experiences with our companions.
To the average spectator, the courts are defined by the pounding of the ball to the swish of the net to the excessive trash-talking. However, from my past encounters, I have learned that those painted, concrete playing fields breed a sense of unity and camaraderie while providing joy beyond imaginable. These qualities are crucial to have and basketball and many other activities consistently offer multiple opportunities to obtain them. All we need to do is spare some time to experience it. We’re all waiting to hear the swish of our nets. This I believe.