The past couple of weeks have been interesting for me. Two of my best friends went away on vacation at the same with their respective families. At the same time, I had been expecting to play basketball about three times a week (Monday & Thursday leagues + Saturday get together). However, the Monday and Thursday leagues were merged due to lack of players on both days. My usual Saturday basketball group also did not play in the last couple of weeks with some people away and the gym being closed for remodeling.
All of this forced me to become more adaptable. I hung out with some of my other guy friends (who are usually busy with kids but we had a get together a couple of weeks ago). I reached out to some others I hadn't seen or talked to in a while. Some folks I hadn't talked to in a while actually called me too.
But the toughest challenge proved to be finding an activity to substitute for playing basketball. A few of my friends always say I should play "less basketball" as it's an activity that consumes my time at the expense of other things. Alas, I disagree with the assessment. Basketball is an activity I enjoy and it's exercise. Exercise is always good for the body.
However, as I learned in these past two weeks, if basketball were JUST exercise, I could easily replace it. I could play basketball elsewhere, play another sport or just work out in the gym. In fact, I did do some cardio work AND played basketball at my local gym. While the exercise was nice, I really realized why I was missing some my basketball that I was expecting.
I realized that part of my enjoyment from playing basketball (or other sports) is the socializing. My current Thursday night basketball is competitive but I know a lot of the guys too. While we all try to win, it is also a chance to catch up and talk to folks. The Saturday basketball crew is also like that as well. I was introduced to my Saturday crew from one of my friends I mentioned above. It's been only in the past 2 or 3 years that I have been showing up consistently. It's always good to play but talk to the guys. While I don't share a long history with them, I've become a part of their circle. We have birthday gatherings and other things we do together.
Simply just doing cardio or playing pick up ball with random strangers is good and I've done that plenty of times in the past. However, I don't usually work out with others. Playing ball with random strangers is cool if you want to just play ball. While my basketball playing style is adaptable, sometimes it's just good to play with people you know.
All in all, As I get older, I am realizing the social aspect of sports is become just as important as playing the sport itself. In fact, I see this applying to other activities such as officiating. I was officiating a tournament this weekend. My partner today wanted to have breakfast so we met up early, had breakfast, talked and watched some football before working our games. I plan to socialize more with my fellow officials as my high school season rolls around in the next few months.