I wrote a few days ago about wanting to learn more about watching the American game of "basketball" so I might be able to find something on TV to watch during this endless period when the major networks and premium channels are showing bupkis.
A friend offered to teach me a little about the game. Having gone to Marquette, she had a personal interest in last Friday's game against UNC.
So we met downtown, at the Wine Shop and Tasting Bar, and before the game started, she made a sketch to show me the layout of the court.
I eyed the drawing.
"If my wife comes in," I said nervously, "hide this."
I feared that Mrs Elliott might think that I was being shown dirty pictures by another woman.
After some discussion about strategies and scoring, she had to leave to take care of stuff, and I proceeded to watch the game on my own. I watched for the entire first half, but halfway through the second I lost interest. The game still looked like tall men running back and forth on the court, tossing the ball to each other and into the hoop. Over and over.
(Marquette lost badly, as followers of NCAA basketball doubtlessly know.)
I reckon that the game is either too simple to be interesting or there is something powerfully compelling that I'm not seeing.
Maybe I need more dirty pictures.
Addendum: commenting on this post, a friend in Oklahoma writes to say:
Like so many other sports, basketball is a game best seen live. On TV is it boring unless you have an interest in a particular team. TV seems so detached and the effect of the crowd is lost.[Tells me that without a team to root for, I was right: the game isn't really interesting -- Ed.]
We bought season tickets to the Hornets when they were in OKC after Katrina. I had no interest in basketball, but felt like I wanted to do my part for them and OKC's future professional sport venue possibilities (Seattle was on no one's radar at that time). We had cheap seats ($10) in the upper nether reaches. The team was only fair but what really became the center of attention were the players. It didn't take long for the NO/OKC Hornet players to become a part of the OKC family. It really became fun to watch live and there was a lot of grief when it was finally decided that the Hornet's were going to go back to NO. They had actually made money while the team was here, something they hadn't in NO. People recognized that the move back had to happen, but also realized that there was a good chance the Hornet's would not survive in NO (as has happened). Even when NO came back to play against the Thunder a couple of years later, the fans here gave the Hornets support. Still when they play here, the players who are still on the team (Chris Paul had basketball training camps here even after the Hornets left OKC) from that period are given applause.
The real attraction of the team is not so much the team, but the players as individuals. That is what really makes basketball interesting. I don't care who they play (a good team or not) or really if they win or lose (of course you want them to win), if is just fun to watch. [My wife] Mary had zero interest in basketball or sports in general. She went to a few games because the kid's couldn't go and has really learned to enjoy the games and the players. That tells me something.