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Reality gets old

I may not be too old, but I sure have felt like it lately.

After too many years of inactivity, my metabolism had begun to slow and my waist line started to show it. I used to run quite a bit, eight miles a day during high school track season.

Those times are long gone, though.

College, then work, marriage and food became much more inviting than literally running my tail off. Several times I decided to bite the bullet and start a regular exercise regimen, but to no avail.

Then I got a call from an old basketball buddy that we were going to start playing pickup games again. It was like the Blues Brothers. We were getting the band back together. So, why would this make me feel old?

Well, it's not what one might think. I don't feel ancient because I've lost a step or ten -- which I have. It's more a product of who I play with.

This group, that includes my father, had been playing together for years and years, and I had been watching since elementary school. I joined them as soon as I was deemed "old enough" to play with the big boys.

They didn't let up on me one bit because I was the little kid out there. I sprained ankles and took elbows to the face just like everyone else. And I'm grateful; it made me a better player.

I can even remember several of them coaching me through my first few years of play. "Slow the ball down," they would say. Or "You don't worry about the rebound. Just take off when the other team shoots, and we'll beat them on a fast break."

All that knowledge was invaluable as a young short white kid hoping more than anything in the world to be an awesome basketball player. (I know for a fact that God has a sense of humor now.)

Well, I didn't make it to the NCAA or the NBA.

But I'm a better basketball player because of the time I spent on the court with that crew.

Now that I'm back playing with the old guys from around town, a few things have changed though. I'm not the new kid anymore. In fact, I'm more like one of them.

There is a new kid who comes to play with us now. He can't be any more than five feet tall and 14 years old. When I give him advice and especially when I'm huffing and puffing to keep up with him, that's when I know I've crested the hill.

But when I get beat up and spent and I'm feeling my oldest, I just have to remember one thing.

My dad is still on the court with me, gray hair and all. Then I don't feel so old anymore.

Web posted on Thursday, March 31, 2005


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