The Student/Faculty BBall Game

When considering whether or not to play in the annual student/faculty basketball game, it is a good idea to decide what one hopes to gain from the experience.  Or, if the hope of hoops glory is in short supply, one should at least decide what one most hopes not to lose.

Such was the case when I received the recent notice of the coming game. which would be played as part of the final pep rally of the year at Backpack Middle School.  As usual, the band was invited to play some tunes, including the Star-Spangled Banner and the Backpack school song.  And teachers were asked to volunteer for the game.

If you don’t know anything else about Indiana, you should know this:  we take our basketball seriously.  We don’t step out on the court unless we intend to win.  In years past I would not have hesitated to sign up.  But at almost 45, it might be time to step aside.  You know – bow out, gracefully retire, let the younger teachers take it from here.

So I made a list of my strengths and weaknesses.  On the plus side:  I’m in fairly good shape; I’m still relatively quick; I can still manage to sink an occasional three-pointer.

On the down side:  my age; I’m not as quick as I used to be; I’ve been missing a lot of shots lately.  But wait, there’s more:  I tend to dribble the ball off my toe; the memory of my not-so-graceful backward somersault during the game several years ago still haunts me; and I don’t have a sporty-looking, super cool warm-up suit like the P.E. teachers have.

To top it all off, there is the knowledge that the teachers have never lost to the students at BMS.  I would sure hate to ruin the record.  What to do?

With all these negatives outweighing the positives, I did the only sensible thing I could do and said no.

Then I changed my mind.

I figured that with the right strategy I could still make this work.  I would lay low, ride the bench, and play defense.  Beyond that I would rely on the teachers’ secret weapon – Mr. Watson, 8th grade Social Studies teacher and wrestling coach.  Sure, we have better players on staff  than Mr. Watson, but none so intimidating.  He is only about 5′ 5″, but he is all attitude.  He looks forward to this game every year with an enthusiasm that is almost frightening.  He sees it as his chance to get even with the 8th graders.  You get the feeling that for Mr. Watson, it’s personal.  Funny, but personal.

With a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye, he starts trash-talking a few days before the game and never relents.  The kids laugh it off, at first.  A few try to give some back, but it’s no use.  He’s a master.  He gets in their heads.  Try as they might to act brave, when they finally step on the court in front of hundreds of cheering classmates and see him coming at them, they just cough up the ball.

It’s kind of pitiful, really, to see an otherwise good student athlete turn all squishy like that.  It feels somehow wrong, sort of opposite of what we teachers are supposed to do. But secretly, we’re all rooting for Mr. Watson.

The game went according to plan.  The P.E. teachers never even let it get close.  I managed to miss a three, but I hit a nifty little lay-up to preserve my pride.  Mr. Watson pinned the star 8th grader in under five seconds using a combination headlock/full body press, and the teachers won again.

And in spite of it, the students seemed to have a great time.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark Shaver on March 11, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Funny stuff. Laughed out loud. Thanks.


  2. Posted by Rachael Shaver on March 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm

    That’s the best and funniest one yet.


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