March Madness?

March Madness is upon us and that reminds me of my very short basketball career.

If memory serves, I was in the fifth or sixth grade at Western Plateau Elementary School in Amarillo, Texas in the mid-sixties. The school didn’t have a sports program so we played under the umbrella of an association called “Kids Inc.” Our team wore red and gold and I think our team name was the “magpies.” Don’t ask me how we got that name. To this day, I don’t know what a magpie is and don’t feel like looking it up. Anyway, I cannot remember a whole lot about my one-season career save two events.

We played somebody (I don’t remember who – maybe the cows or the moose’s, – something like that) at the local Boy’s Club. I was one of those players whose job it was to make sure the bench didn’t wander away. The league had a mandatory “everybody plays” rule so I left my job for a few minutes every half and played center. I was in the thick of things just where the three point line would be if the rule had been around back then. I took it in my mind that I didn’t want to bother with running all that way to the basket for a lay-up so I took the easy way out and launched the ball from midcourt. As luck would have it, the shot sank and I scored two points! I was elated! Two points! My first (and sole) ever in a game. My euphoria did not last as my services were needed on the bench just a scant minute or two after my basket.

The week after my triumph our team ventured out again to play at the Boy’s Club. This time, we were to play a team from the rough side of town. I think they were called the junior convicts. There wasn’t much to write about this game except the magpies had bruises and scrapes over every inch of our bodies.

THAT, dear friends, is the sum of my basketball career.


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