After coming to the Triangle almost seven years ago, I was looking for a place to shoot hoops and possibly find a weekly game for myself. About a mile from where I was living was an outside concrete court at Green Hope High School in Cary, where I wandered by early on a Saturday morning. I found a group of guys, whom I guessed were 25-30 years my junior, who watched me as I warmed up on an adjacent court. They asked if I wanted to play, and I nodded yes. As they were about to choose up sides, they tried to gauge my age when someone said aloud “Has anybody seen George recently, you know, the guy who is ___ years old?” I laughed & said, “Well if George shows up today, I’ll be the oldest guy here by one year.” With that piece of information, they proceeded to “handicap” the sides with their choices. At the end of the morning when I said goodbye, my team had won three of its four games.
I returned the following week, as I had really enjoyed the camaraderie of this group. All races and ethnicities seemed to be represented here, with most of the group working in sales, engineering, and I/T from mostly Cary and Durham and even as far away as Greensboro. While everyone was competitive and played as hard as they could, tempers rarely got out of hand. If there was a dispute on a call, as we play without referees, we allow the player who called a foul to have it. If the call was a little questionable, the player making that call gets a good natured ribbing that usually restores a sense of order & calm to the game.
It’s now been more than five years since I’ve been playing and I’ve met and enjoyed playing with all types of people whose cultures and backgrounds were unlike my own. Without a doubt, it’s been a positive experience for me and I believe that’s the case for everyone who has played on this court. I’ve been amazed at the increasing diversity of the group, and more so to the commitment each individual brings to making these games a positive experience for everyone. I reflected upon how this diverse group shares a central passion for something they love, which ostensibly is the game of basketball. I think that’s just our “cover story.”
While women have always been able to bond easily with one another, men traditionally have had fewer close friends with whom they can share confidences. This weekly game allows this group of men to share their accomplishments on the court and laugh together at their mistakes in a stress free atmosphere…something we all need. I look forward each week to these friendly contests and the good natured barbs that an errant pass or blocked shot will produce. I only wish that the camaraderie of this particular basketball court could extend to all of the more structured environments in which we navigate each week. I wonder how many basketball courts could be constructed throughout the world like the one at Green Hope High School with the U.N.’s $ 5 billion annual budget?
Ed Brennan wrote this as a guest blogger. He is a relationship manager at United Way of the Greater Triangle.
Image courtesy of turbophoto.com