Basketball is for everyone
Justin Schuver, Sports Editor
There's something truly unique about the sport of basketball.
In football, if you're not strong or tough you might as well save your money on those cleats and pads. If you can't hit a curveball or throw a laser to first base, then baseball's probably not the sport for you.
In basketball, you can be 5-foot-nothing, 100-and-nothing, but if you can knock it down from behind the three-point line there will always be a place for you. You might not be blessed with the greatest height or strength, or even athletic ability, but if you can play in-your-face defense and hustle to loose balls then you can excel on the basketball court.
No other sport has the kind of David-beats-Goliath lore as basketball. Even the very phrase "Cinderella team" was coined on the basketball court before making its way into the jargon of other sports.
The stories are endless. Who doesn't know the tale of tiny little Milan High School's upset win over powerful Muncie Central High School in the Indiana state championship – a story that was immortalized in the film Hoosiers?
Every March, there's always a group of teams who make a name for themselves by upsetting a higher-ranked seed from a major conference. Because of the NCAA Tournament, names like Bucknell, Weber State, College of Charleston and Coppin State will forever be a part of basketball history.
And then of course, there's the ultimate underdog stories themselves, the tales of teams who defied the odds to win it all – Villanova's NCAA championship after starting the tournament as a No. 8 seed and North Carolina State's unbelievable upset over the University of Houston's Phi Slamma Jamma.
In what other sport would you find a holder of a major record who is not a player, but a physician? Dr. Tom Ansberry of Orange County is the world free throw record holder according to the Guinness Book of World Records – hitting 2,750 in a row.
Basketball's also truly the great equalizer because anyone can play it anytime. All you need is a ball and a hoop with no extra equipment. You can play a one-on-one game, a full-court five-on-five game, or special games like HORSE and Around the World – no other sport is as flexible.
The game is so flexible that it's one of few sports that even offers opportunities for handicapped fans. The country is full of leagues for wheelchair-bound hoops fans, and even a professional circuit called the National Wheelchair Basketball Association.
And finally, basketball is the truly equalizing game because of its unique pace that guarantees most games will be close. Even when your team is down by double digits, all it takes is a few good shots and some defensive stops and you're back in the game.
This year, our local teams have set their sights on their own dreams of reaching the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center and finishing as state champions. Let's give them all our support as they try to write some lore and make some Cinderella stories of their own.
Oh yeah. Apparently, there's also some big football game this weekend or something:
Alabama Crimson Tide (9-1) at Auburn Tigers (8-2): This is the big one. Every year, you can throw the records out the window and the entire state devolves into a re-enactment of the Civil War. Wives turn against husbands; brothers turn against sisters; probably even somewhere you'll find dogs turning against their owners.
Auburn's an anomaly in the SEC this season – a team that actually scores points. They've done a pretty good job of staying under the radar as well, after losing an early game to Georgia Tech they've been competitive in every game since.
Alabama's slim chance at the Rose Bowl is gone now, but there's no reason they still can't make BCS glory. A win over the Tigers would give the Tide a 10-1 record and make them very attractive as an at-large BCS team. They get it done…Crimson Tide 24, Tigers 21.
Syracuse Orange (1-8) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-2): I needed to fill some extra column space…Fighting Irish 56, Orange 10.