Monday, December 3, 2007

Mark 2:23-28

I love playing basketball. Like most team sports, basketball creates a harmonious poetry that can only be understood through the experience of the game. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of tiny aspects to the game that call for the utmost attention to detail and commitment to sharp, mental focus. I could not count the number of times I've lost myself in the pleasure of this game if I tried. It is truly an awesome experience to lose oneself in something good.

One thing that makes basketball a great game is its framework of rules. There are many rules to the game and it takes a long time to learn them all. However one does not need to know all of the rules to be able to enjoy the game at its base level, one just needs the basic rules of offense/defense, dribbling/traveling, and perhaps a few more. Still, as one's skills and knowledge of the game improve, so will one's enjoyment of the game. It has been a great joy to observe, coordinate, and play this game at many levels ranging from elementary to college. One thing I have noticed over the years is that this framework of rules in basketball is crucial because without it the game would fall apart.

However, what makes basketball good is not the specific rules to the game, it's the fast-paced, explosive energy and high demand for physical and mental performance. It is not the X's and O's of a zone defense that allows someone to lose oneself in the game, it is the teamwork required for success. When I am in the middle of a game I do not think to myself, "Don't travel. Don't travel. Don't travel." I'm lost in the enjoyment of the game. I'm not thinking about the rules because the game itself is much more important than the rules.

Still, at one point in my life I needed to think about the rules often. This was when I was just learning the game of basketball. I even needed a few referees to guide me and point out my errors. But as I learned the rules of the game and committed them to habit, I then also began to enjoy the freedom and comlexity that is beyond the rules. Now that I know the rules and I respect their purpose, I enjoy the game of basketball so much more.

Sadly there are some who don't like basketball. To them the game is silly and does not make much sense. These people may only know a few of the rules or perhaps have never bothered to learn them. And others have even attempted playing the game but were so distracted by the peculiarity of the rules that they missed the game entirely. I feel bad for these people because they have missed a great experience; one that is filled with goodness and pleasure. But perhaps there is another great game with a great framework of rules whose beauty may capture them. Hopefully.

I love playing basketball. And I love the rules to the game. But mostly I love playing basketball.