I have always had a slightly ambivalent attitude to basketball. Most people, when describing me, usually mention that I am a bit on the tall side. However, by the standards of basketball players, I am definitely a shorty. And that strikes me as wrong. How can someone who is taller than 95% of the general population – so tall, in fact, that people taller than me scare me – be too short to play a game that is worth billions?
My indifference towards the game was probably not helped when, in the PE lesson where we were taught the rudiments of the game, I was roundly ridiculed for passing the ball back into my own half from the opposing team’s. You’re not allowed to do that and I just hadn’t listened when that particular rule was mentioned.
From this you will gather that my complaints about the heightist nature of the game are ill-founded, because I was never good enough to play for the school team, let alone have a career that might earn me a slice of those billions.
I was just about good enough to play for my form side. That’s not saying a lot in one respect, because you need at least five to make up a team and there were less than fifteen boys in my class and my selection for the side was based largely upon being the second tallest in that class rather on being any good.
Despite my presence, we actually had the best team in my school year. The other members of the side were pretty proficient (one of them did play for the school side for many years) whilst I drew a remarkable number of fouls simply by being so gangly it was hard to get the ball from me and so skinny that I was easy to knock over. When we won the game which gave us the nominal title of champions of our year, two of the opposing class’ best players ‘fouled out’ of the game, most of their fouls called for running into me as I blindly ran about not having a clue what I was doing.
In the following years, there were no inter-form tournaments due to, variously, teachers’ strikes or exams, so my basketball career, very minor though it was, at least ended on a high.
All of which gives me a good excuse to play this, one of my favourite songs from my school years and one which I never quite managed to squeeze into the Monday Morning Musical Memory series: