When I was younger, I remember seeing Space Jam and hearing the song “Basketball Jones.” My favorite part of that song is Barry White’s voiceover:
“Jones: an obsession, a burning desire; the undeniable passion; the love for someone or something. Yes, he was the victim of a Basketball Jones.”
For the past week, I’ve had to sit out from the Yeowomen’s Basketball team with a sprained ankle. Being unable to play or practice has only intensified my passion for this sport. Rather than working for more playing time, I’ve rediscovered my pure love of basketball.
With the exception of this past week, I have not been seriously injured since my senior year of high school. I was out for the entire year with a stress fracture, and it broke my heart to watch girls play the game I love with such apathy. That year, I felt the “Basketball Jones” intensely. Sitting on the sidelines, I dribbled two basketballs, just hoping I would magically heal. Then, I could get in the game and actually score points. I could chest bump a teammate that made a sick play. I wouldn’t have to see a statline that read “Christina Spencer - DNP.” I wanted nothing more than to be able to play. I craved basketball.
I love this game. There really is no other sport in the world that beats basketball. Yes, there are times that I find myself wanting to take a nap instead of hitting the gym at 4:45. By then, it’s been a long day, and Oberlin classes certainly can tire out a person.
Practice is painful. Your muscles hurt, your lungs burn, your stomach cramps. But that’s part of the sport. It’s part of getting better. It’s a sacrifice we have to make as student athletes. And it’s worth it. There is no better feeling than hearing the swish of the net after making the three-pointer you have shot thousands of time at practice, or witnessing the beauty of a back-door layup, or being able to beat your defender due to the countless number of sprints you have run in the pre-season. Capturing a win in a neck-and-neck game because you can outrun or outshoot an opponent in the fourth quarter is worth every second of pain, every sore muscle, every stomach cramp, every minute of lost sleep, and every sprained ankle.
Sometimes we feel sorry for ourselves: I’m too tired to run. I can’t finish this ab workout. I can’t lift anymore. I’m too sore. My body hurts. Today in practice, I thought to myself, My ankle hurts. But then a light went off. Yes, I am still injured, but we have two tournaments this month. I need to be in shape. I need to suck it up. I can rest on the weekend. I want to start off our season with a beautiful line that reads:
Oberlin College: 1-0.
I am not suggesting that injured athletes should continue to practice under painful or health-threatening circumstances. Quite frankly, if this were last week, it would have been very ill-advised for me to practice. But today was a different story. Yes, I am still in pain. But I would rather endure this not-so-severe pain for a few more days and be in shape, rather than milking it and watching my team get better without me. Playing defense today, after being out for a solid week, felt great.
Basketball deserves a 110% effort. So do my teammates. I pushed through those last few sprints, and felt very satisfied as I limped to our end-of-practice huddle. Ice will help. I’ll be fine tomorrow. Instead of half-heartedly jogging the last few sprints and gaining absolutely nothing, I was able to dig deep, and therefore leave practice with the contentment of knowing that today I got just a little bit better.
Coach talked yesterday about finding our “second wind.” I found mine today. My motivation comes from the deep love and passion that I feel for this sport, and I truly believe that hard work will be rewarded.
Basketball Jones. I gotta Basketball Jones.