Last night I went to play basketball at my friend Scott's church with a bunch of guys he knows from church and Geneva College. It's a weekly game on Sunday nights that has become a staple to my week. I told a few people where I was going when I bolted out of church to head to Mars last night and they commented on how far I was going, which is about a 40 minute drive. Why would I drive so far just to play basketball?
Basketball has been my favorite sport since I was in elementary school because it's always been that release. It's the constant grind that intrigues me. It isn't like soccer or football in that one or two plays can have immense impact on the outcome of a game. To win a basketball game, you have to beat your opponent the entire time. Sure, you'll lose some points on a lot of defensive trips, but because there is so much scoring in basketball it's all about who can do it more over the whole time. In hockey, a few bad bounces can lose a game for a team who may have outplayed their opponent. In baseball, a few bad pitches can change a pitcher's game from a no-hitter to a 5-run loss. These things don't happen in basketball.
Sundays aren't just basketball, though. They're a release. Sunday is my sabbath. I do no work and no worrying on Sundays. Basketball is a way to release the frustrations of the work week and to get re-energized for the week ahead.
The game is so much about rhythm and momentum, just like life. Some nights you can't miss a shot and everything is going your way. Some nights you feel like no shots are going your way and you just keep turning the ball over. The same goes in basketball and life to get out of those ruts. You just have to fight. You get your nose in there, box out the people trying to beat you, and you get that rebound. Then you go back up and try to score again and again until you do. Sometimes the good nights come along without trying and sometimes you have to work hard to win.
In the end, it's just a game, and that's what I love about it. In that moment, all that matters in life is taking the ball and scoring no matter what. There's no school, no job, no relationships, nothing but you, the ball, and 9 other guys trying to do the same thing. You can forget about the world for a few hours and emerge feeling accomplished, whether you won or lost.
We all go back to our lives at the end of the night knowing that we'll all be back again next week with the same goal: winning.