Falling in love with hoops all over again

Published 8:48 am Thursday, December 16, 2010

Doesn’t seem right does it? Time to trade the pigskin in for the leather bouncing ball. Football season, for all practical purposes, is over before it had even arrived.

Oh, sure. There’s still the college game to be excited about. Auburn’s Tigers are playing for their first-ever BCS Championship against Oregon on Jan. 10.

Troy has a big bowl game in New Orleans this weekend.

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Alabama tangles with Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl the first of the New Year.

But the bowl season, itself, seems almost anti-climactic. And while there’s some NFL folks reading this who relish Sundays like the majority of the South relish Saturdays, they’re few and far between.

And Friday nights?

Not much to look forward to.

We head then, begrudgingly, into the gymnasiums for basketball where the games are plentiful and seemingly every other night. Basketball, though, doesn’t really begin to fire up until January as teams jockey for playoff positioning.

Which is not say we’re not fans of the game.

Far from it.

Basketball is close to us, because we spent many a weekend playing it and many an afternoon perfecting our jump shot (or lack thereof.)

Summer pick-up games on the black-topped courts behind W.O. Parmer Elementary School.

A dirt patch beneath an iron goal at our ancestral home in Garland.

A saggy orange goal hanging by a bolt or two from the front of a garage.

The locked gymnasium at Greenville Elementary.

The sacrifice of an ankle here, a knee there. Countless elbows to the chin, to the ribs. Straddling a man’s shoulder after a particularly high lay-up attempt, (not me, my cousin. Everyone playing that game collectively winced. He, meanwhile, sang soprano for awhile).

But how close does basketball remain to the good folks of Butler County? Easy enough to realize.

Drive around The Camellia City and count how many basketball goals are in the driveways.

Head south to Georgiana and check out the multitude of battles in the courts near the old armory.

Two-on-two football never generates enough fun (and two-on-two baseball is called batting practice), but four men competing on the hard-court brings out the best – and some would say, the beast – in all of us. No field required.

No goalines to designate.

No requisite number of players to actually make the game competitive.

One ball.

One hoop.

Four friends.

Simple, really.

But so much fun.