There are some days I wish I could go back in time and smack myself upside the head. I’ve been wanting to do it a lot lately, I’m not going to lie! One of the reasons why I want to do this is because I still have memories of being in the kitchen at my grandparent’s house, I’d be watching my papaw just sit silently–or in some cases yelling or cursing at the TV–while he watched a basketball game. The thought of seeing my papaw resting his elbows up on the table, his hands clutched together and face glued to the screen is still so adorable to me. I don’t think he even knew we were there sometimes because he was so into it.
I never once thought I’d be like that. Whenever I was in high school, yes, I did enjoy going to games but I figured since I didn’t know what exactly they were doing, I shouldn’t be counted as a fan.
When it was football season I would parallel park my wheelchair against the wired fence that separated the sidewalk and bleachers to the black track and football yard on the other side. I was smart with my placement. I could see the players, cheerleaders and anybody going up to their seats above. It was the ultimate spot.
In August, everybody would be wearing T-shirts and shorts because of the summer heat, but towards the end of September and throughout October, you wore hoodies and blue jeans to help stay warm from the cold breeze. I would be lying if I didn’t mention, I was in two layers on both upper and lower halves, but I wore only one pair of socks so I could still grip my controller with my foot and a blanket on my lap for good measure. I was determined to never go home early because I was too cold. If everybody else can make it through, so could I.
Whenever it was basketball season, I had another lucky seat. I wouldn’t parallel park to the bleachers per se, but I would get so close that anybody that sat above me would ask me if they could put their bags underneath my chair to protect it. I don’t believe those “court side seats” would ever be handicapped accessible. Why? Well, just because I was by the bleachers doesn’t make it safer. I’ve had basketballs (and volleyballs) thrown in my direction and one or two players have passed me in a very fast pace. No injuries to either party, but still it’s the fear that lives in the depths of my being and I’d never want to experience that again!
However, there was one game that still lives on in my mind. During my Junior year of high school, we had a sectional game at home. I was escorted to the space in between the extra set of bleachers. I was confused because my normal spot wasn’t occupied or anything, but I guess since all four of us in wheelchairs decided to turn out to the game that night that we’d get special seating. For the most part, it wasn’t that bad. I remember taking a lot of pictures with my friends and I sat next to a very nice lady, a grandmother of a basketball player on the other team. Everything was going good until the first quarter started to dwindle down. I knew from experience that when the players chances of scoring was fading, they’ll throw that ball to whatever side they need to, to get that point.
And then a fear came over me.
We were in the worst seating imaginable. We were right behind the damn basket.
Once I made this assessment, I began to freak out mentally and sweat started to appear down my back from second quarter to the end of the game. By the time my mom came to pick us up later that night, I had my sister take off my varsity jacket that I had on all night and I never felt so relaxed in the cold temperature in my life. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you whether or not we won, but you can’t necessarily blame me.
The last high school game I ever went to was sometime in 2012. One of the bigger reasons why it’s been so long is because I don’t know anybody playing now. I’m also a bit afraid to see the “friends” that I used to hang out with in school, but I think I’m just afraid I’d act like we are fine and no harm done, when that’s far from the truth. So I’ve found an alternative route, and I find it really odd it would show up around the time my papaw passes away.
In November of 2016, I just had this strong feeling to watch a Butler game. Maybe I was missing my papaw or it was papaw who just wanted to watch a basketball game from heaven, who really knows!
I knew there was one on because I had seen it all over Facebook earlier that day but since my dad hadn’t watched a basketball game since the previous season, he was having the toughest time trying to find out what channel this game would be on. It took three people and two TVs to search for it. We never did find the game, but I started scrolling through the sport channels on the guide–something that I never did before I might add–and I ended up finding over four channels that I actually played Butler games. I was even impressed with myself!
I watched the crap ton of college basketball in 2016-17 season. I watched most of the games that appeared on FS1 and I even watched the two out of three games the Bulldogs played against Villanova (and won!). Beating out a #1 team always makes you feel good, for both the player and fans too! I went on to watching March Madness, which was that, absolute madness! I watched more games than I had most of the week. Everyday there was a different game and I basically let it consume me for a while. Even after Butler was done for the season, I continued to watch and was impressed by some of the other teams in the tournament.
When March Madness was over, I was a little crushed.
Now what the hell was going to do?
I had watched basketball for five straight months. I felt empty in a way, and then of course I found the NBA playoffs and then I was fine again!
Since I’ve never watched a professional basketball game before, I didn’t necessarily side with either team. I just went by whatever location they were in. I ended up watching majority of the playoffs and even the final game. I was glad that the Warriors had won, but I was even happier to finally go to bed that night too!
And then I was back to feeling gloomy because now I knew basketball was definitely over.
When August came around though, I don’t think I lasted long when I bravely asked my mom when college basketball started back up! If it wasn’t for Blondie’s wedding, I probably would have asked that question sooner, but I was good I kept it to myself for another month.
What’s crazy though is that instead of obsessing over college basketball this season, I’ve been watching a LOT of the NBA! I was only going to watch Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavilers, and San Antonio Spurs but somehow I started getting into Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and Oklahoma City Thunder. I don’t know how that part happened, but I’m not complaining considering I’m starting to learn names on the Celtics, Lakers, and Rockets team. Since my birthday landed on a Wednesday last year, my own birthday gift to myself was getting through the two games that played that night, but Christmas was even better as I even watched four out of the five games!
Don’t worry, I’m still watching Butler. I’ve even started watching over college teams. I had only watched one IU game in the 2016-17 season, and I didn’t even watch any of Purdue games, but this year I have seen four of Purdue and I want to say two of Indiana games. I’ve watched a lot of the pre-season games of Duke, Seton Hall, Xavier, and even Villanova too!
What has always bothered me is that I still have quite a bit of people who think I am only watching basketball because I must think somebody on the team is cute. In high school, yes, this was the way I worked, but considering I’m watching over eight teams I don’t think this assumption works for this! Although there is one professional player I do like, but he is not the reason why I have continued to watch his team play, however it is a perk!
I think the main reason why I’ve felt the need to smack myself though is because why didn’t I pay attention more to whenever papaw would explain the different positions and terms. Thank god for my mom as she’s been helping me a bit. I have been trying to really pay attention to the announcers so I think I can safely say I am learning, but I just wish I had done it while my papaw was alive. I think he would still be proud of me anyways!