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Loss of sports, Loss and sports

Probably not funny.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

There are a lot of holes in most peoples’ lives right now. Work, play, faith, family, friendships, entertainment and more are all disrupted to a degree that would have seemed almost impossible as recently as January.

There’s a hole in most of our lives, right now, and no real sign of when or if, things will be as they were before.

One of the biggest absences, for me, has been sports, basketball in particular. Why? The easy answer is: you’re a sports fan, it’s a preferred diversion for you. After all, you (Xiane) have written approximately one zillion words about the Houston Rockets, and they’ve never so much as sent a “Thank You” note. And here you are. Still.

But living through both a global, and a family, tragedy in quarantine has taught me that it goes deeper than that. So many of the things I love are at hand: my family, books, games, wine, music, cooking. Time to enjoy them is ample. Also, I can work outdoors with no infection risk to anyone. Why, then, does the loss of basketball hurt so much?

My conclusion is, it’s the intensity of the contests, the ongoing narrative, the fact that each game is self-contained story, with an unknown conclusion, played at the highest level. Also, perhaps most important, it is a connection to the past.

Basketball, specifically the Houston Rockets, link me to my own past, and that of my mother, and father, now gone. My mom loved the playoffs, the NCAA tournament, anything high stakes, high intensity, and basketball, she loved to watch it. My dad and I shared season tickets to the Rockets for a number of years. Neither of these things will happen again, but I can still watch the games, and feel that connection.

Also, by means of attending so many games live I learned a few things:

One - Pay attention to the game away from the ball.

Two - The game is still basketball, the game we played, but at a ridiculously skilled level. Open shots are “open” for a fraction of a second, generally.

Three - Stadium entertainment gets really old after 10+ games, but it never stops getting older after that. Also, don’t assault someone for something shot from a t-shirt canon. It won’t fit, anyway.

Four - I have a hidden talent for heckling.

If I try to communicate with some past version of me, the things we absolutely share grow fewer as I get older. Music that is intensely relevant when you’re in your twenties (Will I find love? Can I find a good time? Does it make sense to be this angry?) is less relevant as you get older (Yes. Yes, but not so often. Yes, unfortunately.)

Basketball, on the other hand, I love just as much. I’m perhaps not as interested in flashy plays or players, but then, I understand the game so much better now.

The loss of people we love is painful. The most painful. The loss of the lives we live alongside our team in an NBA season, unaware of us though they are, is painful, too.

The bigger, brighter, world of the NBA is a hard one to lose. I hope it comes back soon.

Note: Apologies to Book Club readers for my disappearance. Things took a turn in my life where I couldn’t lead a discussion group at that time. I hope you read the book, though.