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Basketball & the Options For Social Action

Guest Column

By Juli Loesch | January-February 1987

Let’s imagine that basketball is a violent sport: the players punch and kick their way across the court to seize the ball and score points. After each quarter, stretcher-carriers clear the playing area; nobody survives a whole season without sustaining at least a broken collarbone or dislocated hip. Players have brawn, but not skill. You could say they lack finesse.

So many good players are disabled by this combat that reformers institute penalties for fouls. But the fans like the bloody spectacle so well that the referees seldom call personal fouls. It’s all “part of the game.”

And say a team emerges that is determined to keep the violence to a minimum. The team members invent radical new plays: The Pass. The Dodge. And refinements: The Bounce-Pass. The One-Hand-Overarm Hook. Our team, the Bouncin’ Braves, practices tirelessly, acquiring razzle-dazzle skill and swiftness.

This strategy shows up dramatically when the Braves face their number one rival, the Brutes. When a Brute lunges for the ball, it disappears – to his astonishment – in an intricate series of feints and passes. A vicious kick fails to connect because of the agility of the intended victim – and the Brute’s loss of balance results in a pratfall.

The fans sit up and take notice. Crouching and springing all over the court, the new-type players score like clockwork. And the crowd loves it!

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