Like almost everyone, we got together with the family over Christmas. And like most everyone, we have some traditions that we like to keep.
Like playing sports. We would let the young kids play too. It was cute, watching our little nieces and nephews try to keep up with the big people. I remember them when they were five or six, when we would toss them the ball to let them get the feel of the game.
This year, it was different.
Our little relatives have grown up. They are in their teens and early twenties. The big people aren’t young anymore, and we’re not so big, at least relative to the young athletes facing us.
This year we played basketball. For fun, we played old guys versus young guys. Four on four.
That was a mistake.
For one thing, I was born without any basketball genes in my body. I had a tough enough time playing round ball in my prime, let alone in my second half century. To put it mildly, I never developed a love of the game.
For another, the speed of the game had slowed down. You hear about that happening in the pros, when a player gets in the groove and everything seems like it is in slow motion. Normally, that is a good thing. For us, however, it was only OUR game that had slowed down. The young ones sped up.
Remember in physics class, when you learned about atoms? In the middle is the nucleus, and buzzing all around the periphery are the electrons. If you saw this game, you could visualize an atom. The old guys, all too winded and slow to move around, collected under the basket. We were the nucleus.
The kids were the electrons.
On the plus side, there was half a ton of immovable beef under the basket. On the negative, the younglings had their run of the rest of the court, and they could shoot from a distance.
When it was over, four of us (guess which four) could hardly move. We limped. We could barely stand, for cryin’ out loud, without something hurting. We didn’t say it, but we realized that we were witnessing the torch being passed to the next generation. We made it close, but we knew the next time it won’t be so pretty. Eventually they’ll start tossing us the ball to let us get a feel for what it used to be like. We’ll get the patronizing, “Nice game, Uncle Jeff, you really made us work this time,” comments.
Which is why I never liked basketball.
And for the record, I’m not crazy about torches either.