Basketball is bad for the community. And contrary to what many believe, it does not promote amity or something even close to it. In fact, I see it as something divisive and causes an unlikely caste system in the seminary—the ones who actually play and the ones who wear their jerseys for souvenir purposes only. I realized all these things when I began playing basketball again in the first year of my formation. As usual, the horarium (the schedule we follow for the day), or perhaps the people who crafted it, has its own way of sending everyone to the court every afternoon and play the most dreadful invention man has ever made. And as expected, it turned out as a battlefield of incivility, transforming brothers into ruthless blood-thirsty mutants who do not care to be injured, or to injure, just for the sake of a fancy orange ball. And to desperately cast it over a loop attached to a board several yards above the ground? That is insane! Good that those who reserved themselves from such brutal activity were granted to choose the nobler afternoon exercise—jogging.
I had a closer look to the notorious so-called “game” when I was a novice. To those who aren’t familiar with the stages of formation, novitiate is the formal start of the religious life. In our case, when the one-year preparation program is over, the brothers are accepted as part of the religious order. Obviously, only a few guys make it to this point and so everyone realized that the group becomes smaller. They hardly even form three basketball teams. And so a manhunt was declared against those who skip the afternoon sports for jogging for the purpose of filling the line-up. That time, I walked heavily towards the gym like a World War II prisoner in a death march. I was forced to surrender myself and go to the basketball court which that time looks more like a concentration camp. I was welcomed by teasing smiles which reminds me of the big bad wolf in Grimm’s tales. Back then I thought a fierce basketball match suffices to prove that Hobbes was right: Homo homini lupus est. Man is a wolf to his fellow man.
And I was correct. And the more I was in the game, the more I knew that basketball was bad for us. Contrary to what sports fanatics would pledge in their verbose “Oath of Sportsmanship”, it does not promote camaraderie. In fact, it makes even the most unlikely one to be competitive, selfish, proud and arrogant. Basketball brings a person to act in his most unguarded moment, where sometimes rules and ethics are watered down into one simple principle: just win the game. I’ve seen players like this. Well, it would be stupid if I generalize everyone. But usually repressed emotions and tendencies manifest like hell during these unguarded moments.
But wait, I suddenly realized one thing. Are we brothers because we have the same likes or dislikes? If so, I’m not befriending a person. I’m befriending a mood-swing. And I never heard such thing composed a community. A community is composed of persons—with different moods, with different tastes, but still one people in many ways: motivation, faith and calling.
Basketball is not bad after all then. In fact, it exposes a person in his most unguarded moments, making known his tendencies that are very human. If so, I should not bother much whether they laugh at me when I miss the shot even I am almost below the ring. Or I should not be afraid to dribble towards the other court without not being caught with violations the referee was never get tired of calling my attention with: travelling, double dribble and other terms as strange as the chemicals in the periodic table. These are all my defects made known by my unguarded moments, or to be more honest, clumsiness. But then, in these times of desperation, defects are always complemented by other people’s strengths. And I think these strengths more aptly describe what is truly human, not the silly flaws we observe with one another.
But don’t get me wrong. I never recanted my earlier statement. With a tone like an arrogant Pharisee, I still accuse basketball for its notorious, unnecessary and irrevocable consequences. Although I have to admit that I’m now having a trouble of listing them down. Perhaps I begin with the caste system it instigated to marginalize the clumsy, non-sporty brothers like me, who, because of such state of affairs, are forever doomed to wear their jerseys in a gym that smells like hell.
Okay, yes. I just simply hate basketball.