Ball Crushes

One lazy Monday at the RAC, I had just finished playing a particularly bad round of American when a guy confronted me about my intention of playing with all men:

“Are you here to really play basketball? Or do you just enjoy the scenery?”

In that moment, I just smiled and told him to believe whatever he wanted, but that I was in love with basketball. But thinking about it later, I was slightly offended at the accusation, even though his suspicion was valid.

I’ve never walked on to the court with the sole intention of picking up guys. I have a variety of theories as to why I am attracted to the all-men sports atmosphere, but I will save that for another post.

But I have to be honest: I’ve had a couple crushes on ballers over the years. I guess it is only natural, with all the different courts I’ve stepped on and the many different players I’ve met. If some sort of romantic relationship did emanate with a certain guy, it was separate from my relationship with the ball.

In my earliest memories of discovering basketball, there was a certain baller I would consider my first crush. His name was Arsalan and I remember watching him in fascination as he sprinted across the gym during full court games at the RAC. Like many ballers, Arsalan had begun on street courts and has gotten used to that environment, becoming good. Nevertheless, he had a different set of goals than the typical scrappy player: to play at the varsity level. Not everyone is made for the discipline of university basketball (not to mention training almost every day and travelling to games on weekends), but he worked his butt off for several years and eventually got on the team. His journey was, and still is, inspirational to me, as well as an admirable accomplishment.

Even though nothing ever happened between us (I asked him out during an intramural tournament, but got shot down) I look back on the whole crush experience, and can’t help but wonder about the eternal question: can men and women be friends, without one of them even once considering the relationship option?

I will say something you probably already know: relationships between men and women are fast changing. They are definitely not the same as they were in my parents’ generation and I believe they will continue to evolve along with society and culture. So how will men and women treat each other in the future? Will they be able to play side by side in sports and treat each other as equals, putting gender aside?

During a half time of an ABA game, I sometimes watch the many children of the ball mothers (on my team) play quick rounds of 5-on-5. Girls and boys of different age groups, heights and body types all playing together. Witnessing these moments, I imagine it as a preview of the future, even in Argentina, where gender differences are very clearly defined.

I’ve had a couple of ball crushes over the years, but nowadays I personally veer away from on-court romance for my own good; in my experience it is a recipe for disaster (and doesn’t exactly improve my point percentage). However, I am not scared of investigating further and exploring the relationships possible between the sexes. And I do believe men and women can be good friends without it turning into something romantic.

What do you think? Do you think men and women can form a platonic relationship? And what happens when it comes to sports? Do you have any experiences you’d like to share?


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