Monday, 17 February 2014

Basketball Contrasts

The annual basketball tournament is going on in the campus. The first year I was back here, it was amazing to watch it and think back to the days when we were in the pit. Our team always lost out early on, but one year we got a wild card entry and played a few more matches and it was great. I shot a ton of baskets and the trophy I have from the tournament - for something - I don't know - shortest player maybe - is a cherished one.

We have only watched desultorily in the past few years. We usually go together as a group and the kids have their fun doing whatever it is and we watch and comment constantly. There are a couple of local teams that usually make it to the finals (in the men's) and usually a team from Bangalore shows up. This time was no different.

We only went to the final this time, having missed the league matches completely, one way or the other. After a long and relaxed lunch we reached in time to watch the second half of the girl's final. It was really good. The girls were strong and sensible and had a great team game going on - and relatively few random mistakes - an occasional loose pass, a couple of misguided attempts at 3-pointers - nothing untoward.

They also have amazing gear - super looking Nike shoes, and the long long shorts that are common in the basketball world. And nice colours too. The tall girls weren't very tall - I mean - they weren't short - but not six-footers - but they looked strong and had good presence under the board, and every one of them was fast, could handle the ball well, and, of course, shoot. It was a high scoring game and finally one of the teams did a bit better and won. It was a great watching experience.

Then we got to the men's match. It was such a huge contrast! The players were HUGE - at least a handful of them. Obviously they were all super strong. One of them on the team could dribble the ball. The others just could not. It didn't matter 'cause they had to just stand under the board and block out the rest of the folks. One of them was fast - and every single time tried to use that to his advantage. And usually just collided with the big players and lost the ball. Or earned a foul.

There was absolutely no chemistry between the players to speak of. The teams were also almost entirely composed of Africans - with only 1-2 Indians. It was a surreal experience -didn't feel like we were sitting in Chennai at all. Unfortunately, irrespective of the nationality, the skill exhibited on the court left much to be desired. No, I am not comparing to the NBA (that stuff is entertainment, it's not about the game at all, I am sorry).

Anyway overall I walked away with a good message in my head appropriate for the upcoming Women's Day. The girls were excellent ball players, and wonderful team-mates. When they graduate from college and basketball and have to shoulder the burden of life, I am sure these skills will stand them in good stead. That they will be able to lead their life with compassion and respect for others, and a belief in togetherness, and a quiet confidence in their own ability to turn things around at crucial junctures...

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