We all need somewhere to belong, a community to call ours. People that are our people because they wear a blue shirt with a horse on it or a number 41. We understand right away, and we smile, because in that instant we know that we are not alone.
Even in the most stressful times of fandom - like when the Dallas Mavericks are losing - at least you have someone to commiserate with. Your fellow Mavs fans, the community. Maybe your community is online, or you go to games and high-five everybody with a Mavs shirt on, or maybe you watch the game at a bar with your friends. And if you listen really closely at that moment, you can hear it - or more like feel it. That little flutter of joy in your stomach.
It’s simple: if you let it, basketball can be that one constant in your life, a little corner that gives you peace. And that’s a pretty big deal in a busy world.
When I was a teenager, things were tough. Things are always tough for teenagers, but I had something most other people didn’t. Basketball.
When my grades were disappointing me (I’m probably what you’d call a high-achiever), basketball practice would put it in perspective. When friends were being mean or I felt left out at school, my teammates were right there in the locker room and everything else became less important.
When friends struggled with body issues and confidence, I worked harder on my shot in a sport that favors strength, size and technique. I was born with at least the first two and basketball helped me feel empowered.
When things are tough, basketball is always a shining star in the darkness that is my Nordic winter. When I struggle, at least there’s always a game to watch, or a hoop where I can shoot a little. And then everything’s right with the world again.
Basketball is a blessing, an artform that challenges you as a viewer, enjoyer, player and analyst. It’s constantly changing, developing, becoming more offensive-minded, or defensive, about small ball or is the traditional big back?
Basketball is a distraction alright, but not in a bad way. A lot of us take life too seriously, we forget that it’s supposed to be about laughter and light and peace, not about what someone just may or may not have insinuated about you or whether their car, house or paycheck is bigger.
Basketball is not a distraction from the real events going on in the world. It’s a way of being in the world. A way of surviving all the tough times and horrible events taking place around us.
No, basketball is not just a distraction for the masses. It’s that small guiding light that helps you find back home in the dark. Basketball is an art, a way of understanding the world and sometimes the hope you need to keep going. If things look tough and all you have left in the world is basketball, that’s ok. Basketball got you. And basketball will be here, when things get better too.