Thursday, January 10, 2013

Basketball Season

Last night I spent the evening watching two basketball games: first, the DePauw women playing Kenyon College, and then the DePauw men playing our arch-rival, Wabash College. The women, undefeated in their season, won the first game handily; the men had to work harder for their victory. Wabash led the entire first half, but DePauw was on fire the second half, scoring several dazzling three-point outside shots with one satisfying dunk as well.

I sat with my friend Keith, asking him questions as the games progressed. This was how I learned that you can score three points for a basket shot from far enough away, and that T.O.L. on the scoreboard means "Time-Outs Left," and why sometimes a player would get one free shot for a foul and sometimes two (if fouled mid-shot).

Then I had a strange realization.

It occurred to me that there was probably nobody in the entire gym who was more ignorant than I am about basketball. And there was also probably nobody in the entire gym who had written and published not one but two books about basketball.

For I am the author of Gus and Grandpa at Basketball and of Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters.  I have to admit that both are short on the kind of lively, fast-pace sports action that would draw sports-loving readers to pick up the books. In both I had to conceal huge stretches of basketball ignorance (though I also had sports-loving friends help me throughout the writing process). In both I was more interested in the character's inner growth than I was in what happened on the court. Would second-grader Gus learn how to tune out the over-zealous parental voices in the crowd and concentrate on listening to his own voice within? Would fourth-grader Mason, the world's most reluctant athlete, survive his first basketball season, coached by his equally clueless dad, and realize that you can find enjoyment in unexpected places? (Spoiler alert: the answer both times turns out to be YES.)

So that was my odd little thought last night, as I sat watching the DePauw Tigers garner two mid-season victories.


  1. I enjoyed reading Mason Dixon: Basketball Disasters. I didn't even know your secret about the lack of basketball knowledge. Here's my 16 year old has been playing basketball since first grade and I still ask questions about the calls made and reasons for some of the fouls during games.
    Thanks for this post.

  2. Thanks, Angela! It sounds as if we share the same secret. My boys played basketball for several years on YMCA teams, and I never figured out what was going on...