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.