Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Basketball

This is the best time of year in our household.  For basketball fans, this week, next week, and the ones following are what one lives for.  There is more basketball going on in the country right now than any other time of the year.  And in this house, it means everything else stops.

For the legal giant I live with, it's an especially exciting time.  See, the school he's worked at since its inception is on its way to its 6th straight state basketball tournament.  Beve stopped coaching two years ago, so he's only a fan now, but he'll be making his way halfway across the state Thursday night to watch.  Unfortunately, he'll miss the most interesting match-up personally. Beve's current school will play the high school Beve and I attended back in the dark ages.  When we were in high school, Beve was a pretty big part of our school's basketball team.  Actually, that might be understating it a little.  Beve was a stud on our basketball team.  He was fortunate enough to play in the first all-state basketball game, and was first team all league two years.  Part of it was talent, part of it was simply genetics--an accident of heighth.  Beve was one of the tallest players to ever play basketball for PHS.  He dominated by simply by being a huge presence in the middle of the key.

So we're pretty loyal to our alma mater.  We check out their scores through out the season, and root for them all along the way.   In fact,  Beve's going to wear his Pullman Greyhounds sweatshirt tomorrow.  However, when the game actually starts tomorrow at 12:30 p, we'll be cheering for the Squalicum Storm.  There just isn't a choice.  Half the players on the Storm are Beve's students.  We know their families, we especially know the coach.

But we're also settled in front of the television to watch NCAA championship week.  We just watched Cleveland State upset Butler.  Yes, two teams I know nothing about, not their mascots, their coach, or even where they are located(though I am betting Cleveland State is in Ohio...but that's just a guess!).  Earlier we watched College of Charleston against Chattanooga.  Don't know anything about those teams either.  But that's not the point. For diehard fans, like the ones I live with, if there's a game on, we watch it, especially now.  There's so much riding on the games this time of year that kids play hurt, play longer and harder than they've played all season, and the coaches sweat buckets...at every basket.  The heart, the passion, the soul--these are all on display during these next two weeks.

All the early years of our marriage, Beve also played basketball.  He always said that hoop was to him like writing is to me, a way to express his creativity. The basketball court was where he exercised, breathed, and became most himself.  A few years ago, when it became clear that he couldn't play anymore (Beve has two kinds of arthritis, one of which dwells primarily in his backbone, making every jog down the court jarring agony), he went through something like what I've gone through this year.  And our kids barely remember him playing, certainly never saw him when he could outplay most people in the gym.  But I remember, and even now when I watch these kids on TV playing their hearts out, doing amazing things with a basketball, jumping as if they have springs in their shoes, I think of Beve, think of his heart, his love for the game, his desire to be creative.

On the other hand, I played basketball in high school as well.  For one year.  And I was pathetic.  Really pathetic.  I made one basket the entire season, and it didn't even count because it hit the wire holding the backboard in place.  I never had a clue about running an offense, even though we practiced said offense every afternoon.  And I couldn't even make a lay-up.  Seriously.  We even had a basketball court in our backyard, and no matter how often my dad shot with me, I never really got it. Honestly, the only reason I even made the team was because the coach didn't cut anyone that year. I know I'm not stupid, really I'm not.  But when it comes to basketball, I'm much smarter when I sit in the stands and take stats. And it only took me a single season playing to realize I wasn't cut out for playing that game.      

Sometimes we want things we aren't made for.  If I had loved playing more, wanted it more, maybe I would have been better at it.  But I don't think so.  I think I was lucky I didn't really want to do something I wasn't capable of doing.  Beve had talent, drive and heart.  But even Beve, as good as he was in high school, wasn't good enough at the next level.  Too short, too slow, not able to jump.  He was never going to be an NBA player.  And he had some hard moments in college when it didn't go as he dreamed it would.

The reality is that most of us are in the average range.  Most of us won't play a professional sport, won't be as good at a thing as our dreams would make us.  But God usually uses average people.  Just as we are.  We may not be extraordinary, but the talented, driven, extraordinary God lives in us, works through us, impacts the world through little old, unexceptional us. Isn't that amazing? It's like we are the champions.  His champions.

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