I play in one or two old-men’s basketball tournaments a year (known by the more politically correct as masters basketball tournaments). They are a lot of fun, and are a great way for us over-50 codgers to get a competitive fitness hit.
I have, however, noticed several differences between masters basketball (at least, the way WE play it) and the competitive game from my younger days. For example:
- You CAN play basketball without having to actually, run, jump or get back on defense.
- Masters players pass the ball much better than young fellers. Mainly because it’s easier than running! Long fast break passes, however, are usually accompanied by an “ouch” or groaning sound of some sort.
- Few masters players wear baggy shorts that come down below the knees. Takes too much energy to lift the knees…if we ever get into a situation in which knee-lifting is required.
- The older the player, the less the feet move on defense, but the harder the hand-checks become. Driving the hoop against a really old player is like running through a threshing machine.
- Unlike high school players, masters players often don’t WANT to get off the bench.
- Pre-game nutrition is a different animal. For example, the pre-game breakfast of one of our players this year comprised a plastic container of cold, leftover, hot-sauce chicken wings that had laid on his hotel room floor all night…washed down with some hotel-room coffee. A pre-game meal, by another teammate took place during our normal warmup period and consisted of a club sandwich, fries and a beer. For some reason, he felt sluggish during the game that started 20 minutes later.
- Apparently, the lifespan of a masters players basketball shoes is 20-30 years. Those sissy high schoolers want a new pair every year!
Masters basketball can indeed be a different game. Ninety per cent of us have realized that we may not make the NBA, but the game keeps us fit and happy and provides a great reason to get together. Having the skills to play, even as we age, is one of the fruits of the physical education and school sports programs we experienced when we were young.
And providing the opportunity for such play for future masters “athletes” is definitely one of the goals of today’s physical educators. Keep up the great work, everybody!
Dick Moss, Editor,