“We play because we remember the first time we shot the ball and knew, beyond doubt, as it floated towards the hoop, that it was going to be good” Sherman Alexie.
Let us take some time out a little, a moment off basketball politics. The 2016 season is just about to start yet it still seems far for those not taking part in the Elite 8, KUSA and school games (Them too perhaps). Right now you badly yearn for a game that is not on screen (never takes the place of the real thing) and Steph Curry just makes you want to wake up at 4a.m. to shoot some hoops. Withdrawal symptoms are now so profound that you look for something, anything to feed the addiction. You are so competitive you find yourself bringing that out in real life.
Speaking of withdrawal symptoms: difficulty in controlling emotion, difficulty in maintaining train of thought, depression, mental confusion, insomnia, anxiety, increased appetite(really severe this one), weight gain, sensitive teeth, leg pains. If you experience any of these, it’s the love: Right now, the swish of a ball through a net, the screeching of shoes and the sound of the ball against the court are the most satisfying sounds in life. That one scratcho at the neighborhood with strangers is just about enough therapy. Off season basketball is also usually better because it is just fun, no stress or pressure that comes with squad selection or team strategy.
So why do we play? It may be because basketball provides a great platform for people to socialize, meet people with similar interests. Out of this come long term friendships, brotherhood, acceptance hence a sense of belonging, and life commitments. Who doesn’t like positive interaction? It might also be because of the life skills learnt with every passing moment on and off the court; Discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, accountability, leadership, sacrifice besides building confidence. For some it is because of the cash incentive, job opportunities or scholarships which ideally are the most searched for opportunities especially with young players. Then there is the group that is in it for the health benefits/ fitness aspect of the game. This has to be the least percentage. We play for the excitement and challenge of competition, there is something about beating that opponent you have always been at rivalry with. For some it is because of the status basketball is associated with. My favorite group actually! Cool people. Basketball is classy and gets you the girls right?
Above all, primary reason, we play because of the fun. It makes you feel alive. It is an art, and creativity here is unmatched. Each play executed perfectly, each crossover, each buzzer shot, each dunk, that tremendous block, that pass that went right by the defender, that moment when team mates are completely in sync with each other offensively and defensively or that simple layup is enough to make your day. It is the perfect stress reliever, even when it caused that pain.
Basketball season has returned. Life as we know it has begun.
The writer is a player in the Kenya Basketball Premier League. If you want to blog for us send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.