"Want to play some basketball?" was the question my pastor asked me a couple weeks ago. My first thought was "can you play basketball in running shoes?" and then my next thought was "hey that might be a good cross training activity to break up all the running." So I said yes. I figured I would show up, hang around by the 3 point line and take a shot every now and then, and get some exercise. Maybe even play defense once in a while. I didn't really plan on doing too much because I didn't want to twist an ankle by playing basketball in my running shoes. I haven't had basketball shoes for years.
What I didn't know at the time was that this is a competitive men's league that plays in a church. Some of the churches "recruit from the outside" and bring in really big, strong, ultra-competitive players. I almost backed out when I learned this, but since I had already committed I felt obligated. Besides, there were 8 other guys on the team, I probably wouldn't even play that much.
So I showed up for our game and the other team is already there, with matching shirts, running lay-up drills. They were big, and they looked good. We looked like the Bad News Bears compared to them, and I was certain we were going to killed.
And there are referees. Two of them. Wearing official referee shirts. With whistles and everything. Yes, for a men's league at a church.
My plan to hang around on the perimeter and not do much was thwarted when our coach told me to play down low and "put a body on the big guys." I tried to just stand there and get in the way as much as possible.
None of us had played any basketball for years, and we never had played together, so the first half was pretty much just feeling out the game and each other and trying to remember what we were supposed to do. We were down by 4 at the half, and were happy to have kept it that close.
The second half, though, we came out firing. We kicked it up a notch on defense. We tied it with about 4 minutes to go.
In the end it came down to free throws and making shots, and we actually won the game. By ten points. I was in shock.
Of course I didn't do too much. I played pretty poorly. I made 3 shots I think. And missed about that many. Including an air ball. And I turned the ball over a couple of times. But overall I had fun and got a good workout running up and down the court. I could tell that I worked out many muscles in some new ways that I wasn't used to working.
So the answer to the question "can you play basketball in running shoes?" is "yes." But if you are me, not very well.