I am a big fan of the “Books for Dummies” series. I am sure that admission will bring along some commentary in regard to “that sounds about right,” but let me explain.
Having spent half of my professional career in the service of the U.S. Army, one thing there was no shortage of was instruction manuals. There were manuals from how to properly wear your uniform to how to properly perform maintenance on an M1 A2 Abrams tank.
The Army, in its infinite wisdom, knew you couldn’t know everything about, well everything. In that regard, if asked a question we didn’t know the answer to, we were taught to admit it, but then follow up with “I do know where to look for the answer.” Then, one would reference said Army regulation or field manual and come back with the proper information.
I am a firm believer in a formal education but more so of continued education. With technology advanced to the point of having a wealth of information at our fingertips, there’s no reason you can’t teach yourself anything. There are just two prerequisites, the desire to do and the inner drive to motivate yourself to follow through.
Enter “Books for Dummies.”
Having never played organized basketball – I did letter in tennis – I am not an expert on the nuances of all the formations, calls, fouls and history that helps take writing about a particular sport to the next level. The pickup games we used to play where I grew up outside Philadelphia had no rules, at least that I could gather. So I took out my trusty Kindle and downloaded what I knew was a reliable source, “Basketball for Dummies.”
I already had the basics down, like you get 2 points if the ball goes through the hoop, 3 if it’s outside the arc. You can’t maul your opponent like street ball or you gamble on giving up points from the free throw line. There’s a zone defense, man-to-man, full court, half court. You get the idea.
Some interesting trivia I didn’t know was the original rules for basketball, jotted down in a small gym by James Naismith in 1891, the original inventor of basketball, sold some five years ago for $4.3 million! Now they’re housed in the DeBruce Center at Kansas University on display. I felt vindicated by already knowing final rule number 13, “The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winners.”
I also found out there was a tie in college basketball in the 1935-36 season between Notre Dame and Northwestern, the only tie in either schools’ history. Seems a foul shot was added in error to the Fighting Irish’s total score, 21-20, and once taken off they were tied.
Trivia aside, one paragraph describes basketball as a sport where you can watch not just the ball handler but the entire team as it sets up the offense, plays defense and you’re relatively close to the action. You can see the nuances of the game up close if you know what to look for.
My search began in a book for dummies.