Wednesday, May 30, 2007


I tuned into about five minutes of the Utah Jazz game tonight--and this (sad experience) sent me into a meditation on basketball, its place in my life.

Some of my earliest memories are basketball games. My next oldest sibling, a brother, is ten years older than me. That means that when he was a freshman in high school (14), I was four. When he was a senior in high school (18), I was eight. My brother was a basketball star. And some of my earliest memories are the games he played. The high school he (and I) attended had around 300 students (9th through 12th grades). The baseball games were played in the city “armory”-- bit bigger than the tiny gym in the high school. I was happiest when my dad found a seat near the little stage where the piano was located. Then I could use the space to mimic what I really cared about at the basketball game--the cheer leaders. I grew up in a very sexist world. Girls didn’t play basketball (in fact when I grew up we played girl’s rules, a whole other post). Girls could: (a) play in the pep band or (b) be a cheerleader. At 4 to 8, I imagined myself as a cheerleader. By the time I arrived at high school, I had learned that I would play in the pep band.

Perhaps this experience--the gap between the glamour of my little girlhood and the reality of my teenage world--traces the structure of me and basketball. The continuing gap between wish, desire, fantasy--and reality.

Fast forward. I spent much of my early adult life living in Salt Lake City. Cheering for the Jazz. We came close but were thwarted, most memorably in my engaged Jazz days, by Phoenix and Seattle, as I recall (or was it only Phoenix in those days).

Then I moved to Sacrmanto. My husband’s job yielded us free tickets to the King’s games. Mostly pathetic, but then rising hope. And somehow I remember those fantasies, those desires were thwarted--by the Seattle Sonics.

And so now I live in Seattle. The Sonics are pathetic. And threatening to leave the city for Oklahoma City (because the Seattle tax payers won’t cough up money for a third new arena (we already have one for football, somewhat successful, and one for baseball, not so much so).

So tonight I find myself routing again for the Utah Jazz. And yet another round of disappointment (assuming of course that the Jazz didn’t manage to overcome their twenty point deficity--now wouldn’t that be a wonderful story).

So should I give up on basketball? Can’t quite get there. My father somehow polished sports into my genes (though it never did occur to him that a daughter might play as well as cheer). But again, another story.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just came across this. I understand as a basketball fanatic myself! And I'm at a university where admitting any abiding interest in athletics is a bit like admitting to liking hot dogs (which I do too). You're right. The weakness, like almost all others, is in the genes.