In the summer before my junior year, I took a two-week long Spanish-immersion trip to Chile. Thomas Jefferson High School, where my peers and I spent our days conversing with the students and sitting in on lectures, happened to have a basketball court. I excitedly asked my host student, René, if anyone really uses the court, to which he replied “no.” My lips curved into a half-smile as I acknowledged the inevitability that I would soon be teaching my new classmates how to run five-on-five. What I couldn’t acknowledge at the time, however, was that I would fall and break my arm five minutes after I began playing. After a fit of moaning, I was rushed to the nearest emergency room by a few of the chaperones, along with the principal of the school. On my first day at Thomas Jefferson High School, halfway across the world, I just had to break my arm—playing pickup basketball. To be fair, I was incredibly lucky to have broken my arm in a country with universal healthcare. Besides, what else could the defense do to stop me from dropping fifty points other than to break my arm?
Why do I continue to express my love for a sport which certainly doesn’t love me back? Maybe it’s the way the seams of the ball feel when I grip them. Maybe it’s the look of devastation on the defender’s face when I sink a shot (a rare occurrence). Or, maybe it’s the freedom that the game warrants. See, basketball, in my eyes, is more than just a game; it’s a reminder of my own free-will. When the ball is inbounded in a game of scrimmage, the receiving player may initiate any one of an infinite number of offensive schemes. Pick-and-roll, pinch-post, motion offense, fast-break, isolation, triangle, pick-and-pop with a cherry-on-top (maybe I made up that last part), you name it; they are free to explore any one of the infinitesimal avenues of offensive play. Basketball serves to remind me that I shall live my life deliberately.