miller's musings

    Four years ago I had my first brush with intramural sports at UCSD.

    I played basketball with some friends from the Eleanor Roosevelt College residence halls, and we were a motley crew.

    I had the most experience of anyone on the court, but I had quit playing after sophomore year of high school. I would like to say it was because I found a higher calling, but I really just was not good enough to play anymore.

    None of us measured over 6-feet-2, and I, at 5-feet-11, played center most of the time, because at 175 pounds, I was the heaviest guy on the team. The last time I played center was in the sixth grade. As a rather rotund 12-year-old, I was stuck in the middle to fill up space. The funny thing about me playing center was that the center on the girl’s team was about four inches taller than me. Imagine the amount of grief a 12-year-old chubby boy got for being shorter than his female counterpart.

    Our team was all right. We never got blown out, but we rarely won. The only thing we could do was talk trash. Night in and night out, my teammates would spew playground banter from the bottomless well of insults and mindless chatter concealed inside their heads.

    One of my teammates was especially loud and crude. To protect his identity, I won’t mention names, but this guy talked it up every second of the game. He played point guard for us and was the skinniest, whitest kid you ever met. He walked around in Fubu gear and sold baseball cards and Pokemon on the weekend for money. He must have done pretty well at it because he drove a decked-out Nissan Altima.

    The season progressed and we seemed to get a reputation. Despite our piss-poor record and inability to actually play any sort of cooperative basketball, people knew who we were, and people also started to get upset; every game it seemed like things got hotter and hotter out there.

    Let me clarify something about the trash we talked. My buddies and I were not being mean when we played. We were just having a good time. Throwing insults back and forth on the court is just the way that they grew up shooting hoops. For me, I grew up quiet on the court, but to see these guys play, it was just more fun when you let yourself get into it vocally. And we knew we could only be creative with the ball by accident, so our mouths spoke for us.

    In the last game the mounting pressure came to a head. We were playing a team that was much better than ours but somehow we kept it close. The reason things were close was the shooters on their team could not deal with talking on the court. The whole game they had been yelling at us to shut up but that only egged our team on. Finally, the other team started playing rough and throwing out real insults and then it all went downhill.

    With about a minute left there was a brawl at the other end of the court. I looked down the court and there was just this pile of bodies stomping, biting, doing whatever it took to get on top. Eventually the guys got separated, and the rest of the game was canceled. In the aftermath two of our players were suspended, as was one of the opposing players.

    Now I am on my second IM team, softball, and I would like to say to all the basketball players that had a problem with a little banter: Shove it. People talk trash across the softball diamond, drink beers, and generally just have a good time. There is no animosity and making fun of each other is part of the good times.

    I suspect that many of the people playing basketball shoot the rock with the impression that they still have some kind of skill. They hold onto to this pipe dream of playing “”good”” basketball and act serious because of it.

    To all of you fitting that description, give it up. You are playing IM basketball, and unless you’re a ringer (and even if you are), you are probably not that good. It is fun and if some teams want to talk trash, then that is their kind of fun. Shove off and let them enjoy.

    Take a lesson from the softball fold — by the way, big props to the volleyball softball team, but you’d think those 35-inch verticals would get more than a four-run victory over a bunch of out-of-shape journalists — and relax.

    Three more points before I make my exodus:

    1. 4/20 once again lived up to its billing as one of the biggest sports days of the year with three exciting basketball games and a plethora of baseball to be consumed.

    2. UCSD ultimate Frisbee needs to think of a better name than the Squids. I love what you do out there, but squids sounds like slugs. Let’s use some of that Triton imagination that gave us the Sun God; let’s strike fear into our opponents.

    3. Speaking of fear, has anyone else noticed the way our women’s rugby team is destroying the competition this year? Springboks, All Blacks, watch out!

    Keep on musing.

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