Height of madness in March
Hoops hits a peak right about now each year.Call it heaven, or hell, for a tiny subset of us addicted to the game. This minority that prefers fast breaks to Back Bowl turns, rebounds to trees, shooting around over groomers. Of course, the powder rules still apply. It’s not as if we’re completely nuts.But now, such a feast for gluttons. Every game to the wire, upsets galore. And I’m not even talking about the NCAA tournament, best in sports.This is rec league right now. March Madness, indeed.The teams I play on in Eagle and Vail have gone double overtime and triple overtime to win, once averting upset and once getting one. And we forfeited at a tie score early in the second half last week when our big fella blew through the ceiling at the refs and couldn’t be grounded with technical calls.Rec league is amazing serious business while you’re in the throes of the game. Testosterone rules over genuine perspective here, make no mistake. But it’s still rec league. After we forfeited, and came back to earth, we played out the remaining time for fun (remember that?). The refs took a break on the sidelines for the next game. Ah, the refs. Now there’s a job, dealing with us knuckleheads. Of course, I chirp and fuss at them with the worst, but I respect them at all levels, especially ours.This is the zen test I fail with regularity. Intellectually, I know referees can’t possibly get the calls all right. The NBA refs miss calls you can see plainly on television. So why do we expect them to to never miss a rec league play? I know this. I tell myself this. And then I still holler when I think they got it wrong. Of course, they deal with players who holler when they got it just right. So the mere fact of hollering means nothing. Besides, the calls generally work out evenly – you make a good play and get called for a foul; you foul and get away with it.We humans come with a built-in fairness meter. Calibrated carefully from childhood, the thing is just about impossible to turn off. So the officials in our lives get under our skins and quickly with each perceived slight. We’re better off, though, if we can learn to take that more global view with all things in life. So there’s some universal wisdom in this piece of best advice for players: Just shut up and play. Too bad so few of us have enough Dalai Lama in us to do that.Thankfully, the referees know all this and generally understand the little dramas of supervised competition. Besides, if they do get ticked, they can shut down the loudmouths pretty quickly. And they do get paid, although I’m not sure it’s always worth putting up with the likes of me in full roar.But like the clock and score up in lights, the refs simply are part of the game and what distinguishes league from pickup ball. Suddenly even the 40- and 50-somethings still playing ball find themselves transported back to high school. Minus the crowds and press clippings, of course.Basketball was life for me then. Nothing else quite mattered as much. Now it’s the one best way to guarantee a good workout in a short time, mainly because I’m too lazy at the gym to push as I do on the court.Real life today revolves around the kids, the spouse, the career. But basketball, besides a great way to lose cash in a hurry in the pool right now, has ironically become more important for its step off the main stage.For the weaknesses it shows me in my character, for the mental diversion, for the physical fitness, for the players who share the addiction, for the pure fun of it. The big games on television are just icing. The madness for me runs all year long.Managing Editor Don Rogers can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14600, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado
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