Losing by the Rules

Daniel and I rarely play basketball.  We do go out on the driveway a lot, draw chalk lines around the tall pole which has a net attached to the top.  Between the various grandparents, I believe Daniel owns about thirteen dirty orange basketballs which are housed in a large box in the garage.  But when Daniel wants to shoot some hoops, we rarely play a game as pedestrian as “basketball”.

20080907150649“This game is called ‘Pointer’,” said Daniel, “otherwise known as ‘Lucky’.”  He shot a couple of baskets and explained the rules.  If we scored a basket, we got one point.  That sounded straightforward enough.  Sometimes in Daniel’s games, we get more points the farther away we are.  Shooting from the street nets five points in “Freeze Line”.  My personal favorite is “Robbed”; if your shot goes in and out of the basket, you still get one point for trying.  I stepped up and made my first shot; no good.  Daniel shot and scored.

“It’s five to zero,” he announced.  I was confused.

“How do you have five points?”  I asked.  “I thought each basket was worth just one point.”  Daniel explained the shots he took while demonstrating counted because “they were educational”.  I didn’t remember that rule at the outset, but let it slide.  I set and shot.  The ball bounced off the backboard into the net.

“Five to zero still,” said Daniel.  Wait a minute.

“How come my basket didn’t count?”  I asked.  It turned out it did count.  However, after the ball came down, it bounced into one of the puddles on the driveway left from the storm that went through earlier.  Puddle splashes cost a point.  Daniel made his next basket.  I stepped up to the line.

“Wait!” said Daniel.  The ball overshot the backboard and bounced into the garage with a crash.  I turned to look at him.

What, Daniel?”

“I was just going to say ‘good luck’,” he replied.  I stumbled into the garage and retrieved my basketball wedged in a pile of gardening supplies on the far side of the lawnmower.  I came out just as Daniel was scoring again.

“That’s nine to zero,” he told me.  Hold it.

“How did you get nine?”  I asked.  “You just had six!”

“I made three baskets while you were getting your ball,” he explained.  It was a previously unknown rule allowing the other person to make as many shots as possible instead of delaying the game.  Daniel made another basket, but his ball rolled through a puddle afterward.  “Ten to zero now.”

“But your ball went through the puddle,” I complained.  “It doesn’t count.”  Daniel carefully explained how it wasn’t the puddle that mattered, but the splash.  My ball had bounced into the puddle and made a splash.  His had just rolled through the puddle.  That was allowed.

I did – eventually – score some points in ‘Pointer’, but ended up losing 40 – 30 as the sun went down behind the house across the street.  I demonstrated good sportsmanship by congratulating Daniel on a good game.

“It’s too bad you lost, Dad,” said Daniel.  “Don’t worry, I’ll come up with a different game next time.”  I have no doubt our next game will have different rules and regulations.  However, no matter how it’s played, I believe it will be called the same thing: Daniel Wins.



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