Ever since I can remember, basketball and I have cherished a unique relationship. As a little girl, I absolutely loved it. Perched on a wooden bleacher, my legs swinging in the exciting, black space below, my nose never left the book of choice as others screamed around me. The only complaint I ever had was when they screamed too loud, jolting me out of my reverie, and causing me to lose my place. I would stare vacantly about, vaguely noting that the guy sitting next to me had nachos that looked awfully good, and then slip back into the enchanting world of Avonlea or Narnia. Back then, basketball meant a good hour and a half of uninterrupted reading time – precious as gold.
Then I reached high school. And discovered, to my horror, that reading during a game could be misconstrued as being uninterested. Though I protested that I was extremely interested and that reading worked as a catalyst to heighten the excitement of the game, I was overruled by my unfeeling brothers, who much to my chagrin, grabbed my dog-eared book and sat on it.
Thus was my intrusive introduction to the world of basketball. As I sat and morosely thought of the poor hobbit Bilbo, scrabbling about in a inky black cave with Gollum, my glowering stare was every bit as dark and gloomy, as I eyed my yelling brothers with disdain. In spite of myself, I was drawn to the action on the floor, as guys leapt sky-high, swished three’s, and ran down the court like gazelles. Under the guise of asking a question (but really, to gain a better angle at my squashed book), I edged closer to my brother and whispered, “Who are we going for?”
He motioned to the opposing team, clad in the most horrendous colors known to mankind. My hand almost upon my book, I withdrew in horror.
“That’s not the team I’m going for, ” I declared abruptly.
My brother, who is familiar with my many quirks, smiled knowingly. “Why is that?”
I stuck out my tongue. “Because of their atrocious defense and even poorer offense. Not to mention their lack of discipline and ugly passing skills.”
“Really?” he asked, smug smile fading, and a new hopeful expressiong dawning in his eyes.
“No.” I smirked. “Their uniforms are prettier.” And stole my book back.
However, that experience set my complex relationship back on course, and I began to enjoy basketball for its own sake, not just the reading time the four quarters represented.
And now? I love basketball. In fact, I watched my brothers play in a tournament today, will watch them again tonight, and yet again tomorrow.
They came up to me after the first game, flushed with the thrill of victory, and asked, “How did you enjoy the game?”
“I loved it,” I told them honestly.
They don’t need to know that I had “The Hobbit” tucked inside my hoodie. Just in case.