If you’ve ever seen an adult league basketball game, then this is familiar territory:
Older players show up at the local grade school at night with big bags. Is this for a trip to the gym or a month in Europe?
They start unpacking their gear and you can’t figure out what it all is.
When they take off their sweats it starts making sense. Knees carry huge pre-arthroscopic surgery scars.
Wobbly ankles get support from lace up braces. They strap industrial strength appliances to their knees.
It’s a wonder they can even walk with the extra weight, let alone play basketball.
Ask any of them why they risk further injury and you’ll hear the same words: “I’m never giving it up.”
With their legs braced up with more hardware than President Franklin D. Roosevelt used to convince his audience he didn’t have polio, they play.
Bang knees in the paint with one of these guys and you come away the loser.
Why do they keep showing up with the brace bag, the bottle of Advil, and a nasty attitude on the court?
Because sport is still a part of them, an important part, and playing helps them stay in touch with who they used to be. Whether a grounded high flyer, or a step slower facilitator, they’ve still got game.
More importantly, they want you to know they’ve still got game.
When they play younger guys and can’t guard them, they openly say, “I foul. A lot.” What that means is they’ll clothes-line you with their arm around your neck if you cross them over.
The scoring machine on your team who used to get his legs under his long shots won’t stop trying. Air ball after air ball goes up and he says, “Shooters shoot through their slumps.”
Avoid asking how many decades they’ve been slumping if you don’t want to get tackled on the court.
Keep in mind that these men and women, these baby boomer sports nuts, are hardcore competitors. They won’t give their game up, and they won’t give you a break.
Instead of making them feel old and lame with your smooth moves, fake a limp. Fall down like you just sprained your ankle. Show you’re one of them as long as you’re playing with them.
Make sure you understand how important their game is, or pay the price. What is the price? Listening to an old man brag about his old man game.
A young player deked a brace guy during a game, who retaliated with an elbow to the head.
The first player said, “That’s not part of the game. Not now and not when you dreamed of playing like Bob Cousy.”
“Sure it is,” said the Elbow. “Just because soft guys like you can’t take it doesn’t mean it isn’t part of the game. Listen, kid, I played college ball. See these teeth? An elbow knocked them out. See these knees? Eight surgeries. You’re telling me how to play? I don’t think so.”
“College ball? You played in college? That’s nice, but this isn’t college. Swing that elbow again and you’ll be on the ground with your false teeth, okay? The coach isn’t pulling your scholarship if I score on you. He’s not benching you if you can’t keep up. Just play the game right. You don’t need to teach any lessons here with your Man’s Game. Why not be a good sport and feel lucky you can still play at all?”
“Now I’m getting advice from kids more than half my age?”
“You probably mean kids less than half your age. They taught math where you went to college? I went to Oregon. They teach math there.”
“Did they teach respect?”
“You played basketball. That’s your game. I wrestled. That was my game. I’ll be showing you what it’s all about the next time you cheap-shot someone. Respect that.”
“Is that a threat?”
“No. It’s a promise. Play right, or don’t play at all.”
(posted on oregonsportsnews.com)