My son, Kaleb, and I have been playing basketball at the local park recently with a variety of young men. Every since moving to London 9 years ago, we have played various sports at local parks. Usually, it has been football, but lately basketball has grabbed Kaleb’s attention which is fine by me as I’ve always enjoyed “hooping it up” – even if I’m not that good.
My former dominance on the court is now just that – former. I still regularly beat him but he’s starting to give me a run for my money as his outside shot has improved. Kaleb’s improvement has enabled him to join in with the “big boys”; those older teens and twenty-somethings who run the counts in the late afternoon. As I’m about 20 years older than anyone else on the court, I find myself constantly sucking wind as the young guys fly by.
I’ve been surprised at variety of people who love the game. My FaceBook post last week celebrated this fact:
Played basketball at a local park here in Shepherd’s Bush yesterday evening and it felt like the FIBA World Cup. We had guys from Spain, Jamaica, Lebanon, Iraq, New Zealand, Somalia, UK and, of course, Kaleb and I were representing the USA.
Several items have struck me as I have played basketball in Shepherd’s Bush:
1. Sport is a natural connector for men. If you play a sport, look for ways you can connect with other men in your community. Of course, every guy isn’t sporty and that’s fine, but for guys playing together, friendships come easy. I tend to ask questions during the breaks and have made a few new friends the past few weeks.
2. The world plays basketball. Football (soccer) is by far the biggest sport in the UK, but sometimes a niche activity can bond people together more than that “thing” everyone is doing. In addition to the countries mentioned on FaceBook, we have had a group of guys from the Philippines join us several times.
Apparently, basketball is hugely popular in the Philippines. Check out this story – looks like basketball hoops were the first thing to go back up after typhoon Yolanda.
3. Fathers and sons need activities they can do together. Basketball works for Kaleb and me, but many other activities would work for other fathers and sons as well. Archery, board games, Legos, chess, acting in a play, making music together – the list is endless. If you are a father, look for activities that you can do together with your son. I think it’s especially important to find activities that are non-electronic and participatory. Kaleb and I enjoy watching sports together, but the bonding has increased when we sweat together.
On the next dry afternoon as the sun is going down, stop by Wormholt Park in Shepherd’s Bush and you just might find Kaleb and me shooting a few baskets with our friends from around the world.