There’s just a level of emotional intensity in basketball – particularly in those final moments of a close, high-stakes matchup – that you rarely get in other sports.
Emotions can certainly run high in football, and baseball and softball also have some intense moments – but there’s just something about concentrating all that emotion and energy inside the enclosed space of a gymnasium that seems to make the very air vibrate.
Hundreds of voices yelling and chanting and cheering at the same time, the percussion of clapping hands, stomping feet sending tremors through the floor and bleachers – it all rises and falls in waves moving in pace with the action on the court.
And, at its height, as those final seconds tick away, it swells into a such a great, deafening din that you wonder how on earth the players can even concentrate on the game.
Then a game-deciding shot takes flight, and all the clammer pauses in one tense moment as everyone holds their breath and every eye follows the arching trajectory of the ball as it closes in on the basket.
And then, depending on where that ball goes, half the gym erupts in celebration as the other half deflates and starts packing up to head home.
Of course, not all games go like that. Often one team gets far enough ahead that there is little doubt of the final result. And, in some games, it’s obvious how it will turn out halfway through the first quarter.
But, still, those nail-biters are always the best.
As you read these words, boys and girls basketball teams have begun postseason competition in district tournaments in various locations all across the state – and, sadly, for some of those teams, the season is already over.
But, if your favorite team is still alive, I encourage you to get out and support those young athletes and taste the intensity of high school basketball.