It’s a unique sound, the squeaking of basketball shoes on a highly polished gym floor. The loud buzzer that ends the quarter or introduces a sub, the shrill squeal of the referee’s whistle, the silence that hushes the stands as a player steps to the free throw line….all of these sounds mean the game’s underway.
It’s the bouncing of the ball down the court, the snappy passes and the soaring layups, the clapping hands after a score, the collective groan when the ball rolls off the rim, the cheerleader chants, and the appreciative roar of the crowd as a long distance ball swishes through the net and the referee raises his arms to signal the scorekeeper that a three-point basket was made.
Such scenes as these have marked many of our Tuesday and Friday nights over the past couple of months. Now that it’s coming to a close, I think I’m starting to appreciate it like I should have all along.
When our daughter wasn’t in the game, we could cheer on her friends, teammates, classmates, in her game and in the ones that followed, and hold our breath while our youngest was lifted into the air for halftime cheerleading stunts. A concession stand hot dog and a bottle of Gatorade counted as supper.
I love spring with its soon coming promise of outdoor pursuits, but there’s nothing like a gymnasium in the heart of winter to warm us with close games and unbelievable shots and bleacher conversations with friends.
These will be the memories of my children, these are my memories, the thrill of competition, the respect for talented players from other teams, the late nights, the bright lights, the celebrations, and the large black scoreboard that always kept reality before us.
Not many events move us like sports – especially when our children are involved. We may yell like we’ve lost our minds, feel our pulse race and our excitement soar. Not much is as adrenaline-filled as a close game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. If it’s against your main rival or in a playoff game, so much the better. We all become coaches, convinced we know the perfect strategy, the play to run, the defense to prevent a score, the only way to bring a victory home.
And while I never played a minute in an actual basketball game myself, I think it must be in my blood – from watching my siblings to cheering at college games to years of supporting my husband as a coach, and now with a brief stint as a basketball mom.
So for now, the blue and white uniforms are being packed away….but it’s only eight months till they reappear, and the starting lineups are called, and that first whistle blows for the jump ball to start basketball season again.