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The Music Maker

Basket case

I've tried to watch a professional game of basketball on the TV. It's difficult to escape the conclusion that, of the forty-eight minutes that a match lasts, only the last three are of much use, writes Peter Edgerton

Monday, 26 February 2024, 09:31

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Basketball - now, there's an odd sport. Someone tried to explain the rules to me once but there were so many of them and they were so complex that it was only the barman calling last orders that prevented an irreversible implosion of my cerebral cortex.

Maybe my view is tainted by the fact that, at school, our PE teacher, Mr Carroll, decided, in his infinite wisdom, that we should enter the county basketball championship. That wouldn't have been so bad in itself except for the minor detail that not a single pupil in attendance had ever once played basketball in his life. Not to be deterred, the plucky tutor reasoned that he could simply employ the school football team in this new and exciting activity and promptly arranged a single training session which, as I recall, involved two dislocated fingers, a bloody nose and twelve teenagers wishing they were at home chomping on fish finger sandwiches as they usually were at five o'clock on a Thursday.

The county match itself remains something of a blur. I have a vague recollection of some boys - minimum height eight feet six inches, or so it seemed - laughing a lot and taking turns to plonk the ball in the basket while we flapped our arms about several feet below, wondering to a man if slide tackles were allowed.

So, perhaps that's the reason for my uneasy relationship with the sport in question but it could also be the few times I've tried to watch a professional game on the TV. It's difficult to escape the conclusion that, of the forty-eight minutes that a match lasts, only the last three are of much use. The first forty-five seem to consist of the two teams taking turns to score, arranging things so that it's more or less even-stevens going into the home straight. Why not just cut to the chase and play games of three minutes?

Anyway, as you might have gathered, I'm no expert on the subject and, the truth is, basketball is enjoyed by millions of people in many countries. Here in Malaga we were witness to this very fact only last weekend when the Copa del Rey was held in town. Thousands of fans descended on the city from all over Spain, dressing entertainingly, singing their hearts out and behaving impeccably before returning whence they came having left numerous little parcels of joy in their wake.

I'm not sure I'll ever understand the attraction of the sport, but the fans? First class.

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