Disclaimer: This was an exercise inspired by my brilliant writer, sister/friend. Shameless plug.
As long as I can remember this game has been an outlet of sorts, an escape from reality. Sure it’s just a game, a round ball and a hoop, offense defense and the in-between. However, it was once prized YMCA, Spirit League and Select Team jerseys that marked my progression through tryouts and tourneys. It was ounces of sweat dripping off my forehead onto yellowed hardwood, and overpriced Jordan sneakers that made me run faster and jump higher. It was the tapping of my anxious right leg during the Star Spangled Banner and the towel over my head as I wept over fouling out of a big game. It was belligerent battles with coaches and referees; a heart swollen with pride over stats and newspaper articles. It was the #32 necklace that I proudly wore to match the numbers on the front of my letter jacket. It was all-star teams, recruiting and state recognition.
In college it was exclusive parties and all day workouts. It was weights, conditioning, practice, team dinner and camaraderie with my sweatpants sorority. It was solitary cold soaks to momentarily cure the increasing agony of my shoulders, back, legs, etc. It was my source of joy, my identity all wrapped up in a round ball and a hoop. Then, it was forced retirement, doc’s orders. It was grief, anger, bitterness, resentment and eventually acceptance.
Now it is my Wednesday workout. It is exercise for the out of shape and slightly overweight. Its exaggerated cheers for 3 pointers made and “she’s still got it!” for no look passes and fancy dribbling. It’s more laughter than yelling, more miscues than precision, and its tom foolery really. For the first time in my life, it is just a game.