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I’m (genuinely) thankful for basketball

A brief interlude in what we do here to be actually thankful for this sport and the people who introduced us to it.

Butler v Notre Dame

There is a sense of obligation that comes with operating a website on a holiday, “better say something about Thanksgiving.” This is not that. Part of our family Thanksgiving has become watching basketball. For that, I am genuinely thankful.

I read somewhere that there is no better way for young men and their fathers to bond than over a game of catch. If you haven’t noticed, three of the more prominent writers on this site share a last name. Our Xavier fandom comes in large part from our father and, while we shared plenty games of catch, basketball was our raison d’etre.

On this Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for that. As a father myself now, I appreciate the effort it must have taken to get out of the car every day and play ball. When I stood in the driveway holding my beloved ball and waiting for, on Fall days, the headlights to crest the hill it didn’t occur to me that two hours on the road and ten hours in an office may not have left Dad in the mood for a game. Every night, though, he piled out and, sometimes still in dress shoes and tie, shot until even the lights on the garage couldn’t pierce the gloaming enough to illuminate our hoop.

That changed over the years. Dad started showing up at high school gyms instead of in the driveway and he kept score and then coached instead of just hoisted shots. In bad games (and there was a 2-21 season) and in good, Dad was a constant. HS turned to college, and Dad kept showing up at games. Through all those difficult times that sitcoms mine their mildly funny tropes from, there was always basketball. Sometimes, after the hardest talks a dad and son would have, we’d flip on a game. 15 minutes later, Dad would be breaking down the flaws in a 1-2-1-1 press or dissecting an out of bounds play.

That’s understating the bond that basketball has given us with our mom as well. We were fortunate to have both of our parents and Mom was as much a gym constant as Dad. A recent count of high school and college games that she attended was nearing 1,000 before conversation drifted elsewhere. When Dad couldn’t make it in time to keep book, it was Mom behind the scorer’s table, sometimes with a car seat in tow, charting every play. When Dad didn’t get home in time, it was Mom rebounding and kicking out from under the basket. When girls finally started to come around, Mom took careful note of how well they understood the game.

So, I’m actually thankful for basketball and, I hope obviously, the group that contributes to writing this site. Come this Thanksgiving, whatever the weather, we’ll inevitably end up around the hoop again. Those of us waning in our abilities instructing those who are waxing, and Mom and Dad still standing nearby, taking it all in.

Thanks from all of us here at Banners to all of you who take the time to read us. Enjoy your day and your families.