Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Woo Hoo! My Son the Basketball Player!

John Paul Janaro on the basketball court
Ah, the basketball season has begun!

Yes, I know that the big guys in NBA and NCAA have been playing for awhile already. I'm talking about the basketball season that matters, namely, Chelsea Academy's basketball season.

John Paul decided to go in for basketball this year, and he's on the JV team, which means he'll get to play... at least sometimes.

I can go back in my mind to a windy March day in the year 2006, when I set up a basketball hoop in our driveway. Back then, I had to put it on the children's height level (which I think is seven and a half feet). It was great because at that level I could do slam dunks. But it was pretty high for an eight year old boy and his little sisters. Over the years, they have thrown various spherical objects at that hoop: kid sized basketballs, soccer balls, volley balls, or any kind of bouncy ball that was handy. We probably have twenty five deflated balls somewhere in the carport.

(We have a barbecue grill out there too)
At some point (I don't remember exactly when), we raised the height level to ten feet.

Over the years, the kids have improvised many games on that driveway, but often the old hoop was neglected. It was hard to throw a ball all the way up there.

But it was there. A basketball hoop in the driveway: my monument to The American Dream.

John Paul in the scrum.
Now, late in the afternoon I hear <bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce> and I go outside and John Paul is popping shots from all over the driveway. Along with tennis and baseball and street hockey with roller blades, John Paul has gotten pretty good at basketball. Of course, he's not six feet nine inches tall, so this is not likely to be his road to riches and fame. That's just as well; we can focus on the fun!

High school basketball at this level can be a lots of fun. One reason is that hitting a shot and scoring is a big deal in these games. It is by no means to be presumed that a well executed setup will result in two points. The final scores are like 22-18. The kids have plenty of teamwork but no sharpshooters. As a result, the game resembles a soccer match except with a lot more goals: hard play, running, passing, getting into position, and then the shot which goes in... once in a while. And when it happens, we've got something to cheer about!

This is a good sports program for a small school, and especially for an academically intensive liberal arts academy. The kids get lots of exercise, learn how to work as a team, and have just enough competitive challenge to make it fun. It's a game, like it should be. Their lives don't depend on it. Nevertheless, they're playing the game because they want to win! No doubt about that.