My older two kids have both been deeply into basketball this spring, along with most of the neighbourhood it seems.
Maybe it’s the fact that the Raptors are in the playoffs and winning games. Maybe it’s that there are some pretty big name Canadians playing in the NBA right now. Maybe it’s because Drake shouts out the Raps in his tunes. I don’t know, but every decent day after school and again after supper, a whole pile of kids can be found playing 21, American, World Cup, Bump, and all sorts of other basketball games at the court behind the school.
I don’t always have time to go up to the school with them, but I’ve really been enjoying it while I do. I don’t usually play much. I mostly just act as an unofficial referee, coach, commentator, and conflict negotiator. Occasionally I shoot a few shots (and since it’s only a 9’6” hoop, I can even dunk), or the kids take turns trying to score against me one-on-one.
The kids come and go, depending on their different supper times and bed times. They sometimes bring younger siblings (including my youngest) who play on the playground, or older siblings who sit around in the alcove and gossip. They also sometimes bring other parents who join me as impromptu referee-coaches or chat among themselves.
In other words, the new enthusiasm among the pre-teen kids has spawned a little hub of community interaction. They didn’t intend it, of course, and it will only last so long, but it’s fascinating to me how little it takes sometimes to make these communities form spontaneously when they’re often so difficult to form intentionally.
You could work yourself raw trying to get that many people from the community to show up and spend time with each other and never get anywhere close. I know. I’ve tried. You could plan sporting events, art shows, block parties, games nights, or movie screenings, and never get that kind of turnout. I know. I’ve tried. But right there at the school basketball court, quite spontaneously, a fun and vibrant community has formed.
So, I’m certainly not fighting this thing now that it’s here. I don’t know how long it will last, but I’m going to enjoy it while it does.