It used to happen all the time. My brother and I would play basketball in the dark on our hoop in the driveway. It was summer. We could stay up late.
As fun as those summer days were, playing basketball in the dark is not easy. My brother and I used to talk all the time about how great it would be to have lights. Or better still – to be able to play in a gym.
Once I got to college I figured the days of getting hit in the face with a basketball because I couldn't see it had long since passed. After all, I go to a $30,000-a-year university that has an abundance of outstanding recreational facilities, including a gym that is available for student use until 11 p.m. most nights.
Well, it happened again. And again. The last two Sunday nights I had the distinct privilege of playing basketball in the dark, something I probably haven't done since junior high. And I wasn't even outdoors. And it wasn't because I had lost some sort of bet.
Both times happened right on the courts of Dillon Gym during an intramural basketball game.
My team, made up mostly of my roommates, is scheduled to play all of our intramural basketball games this year at 10 p.m. on Sundays. The first week things worked out fine. Unfortunately we lost, but at least we could finish our game.
The next week things took a turn for the worse. At a key moment of the second half, with the score tied in our game against a Cottage team, somebody shut the lights off. It was 11 o'clock, they told us. The gym was closing. We couldn't finish. For probably the first time since Dr. James Naismith first shot a ball into a peach basket, a basketball game ended in a tie.
This week in our game against a Forbes team, the same thing happened. This time with two minutes left and the the game tied. This time both teams decided to finish. Despite the difficulties of playing in the dark, we managed to pull out our first victory of the season.
I'm sure the players on the Forbes team were pretty upset. Losing isn't fun, especially in conditions that are more suited for bats than for basketball.
I was upset too. In what is now my only chance to play organized basketball, my team can't even finish a game. There is no reason this has to happen. The Princeton intramural program offers a wide variety of opportunities, and most people who play enjoy the chance to play a sport they may not have played in high school. Princeton students deserve to be able to use all those opportunities to their fullest.
Games rarely start on time because the schedule is so full. If Dillon Gym is going to close a little bit before 11 p.m. Sundays, then games can't be scheduled for 10. Even moving all the start times up 15 minutes would solve the problem. The schedule can't be changed this year, but in the future the Intramural Office should schedule basketball games, and all intramural events, at times when it knows they can be finished.
Maybe then my team can finally finish our game with Cottage.
The first week things worked out just like I thought. My whole team could make it, the other team showed up, and everyone was excited to play. Unfortunately, we got killed, but at least we could finish our game.