Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

A Day for Sports

Basketball at MCC (8166)

At least I was indoors.  No frozen fingers to worry about here.  Just the question of how to photograph your grandson (the one with the basketball) in a very dimly lit gym.  Either I’m getting really old (and more blind) or they’re turning down the lights even more in school gyms to save a few bucks.  Or maybe both.  All I know is that my camera saw the problem as well.  To even get an exposure of 1/125th of a second (I think it has to be at least that fast for basketball) with an aperture set at f/5.6, I had to bump the ISO up to 3200.  I could have gotten it down to 1600 if I’d opened up to f/2.8, but I was worried about DOF being too shallow.  I was only a few feet away from the action.  An ISO of 3200, of course, can create a different kind of “softness”.  By the time you remove as much noise as you can in post-processing, the image loses a bit of its sharpness.  But what the heck – it’s a case of getting something “not great” as opposed to getting nothing at all.

Unfortunately, his team lost yesterday.  But they’re all young (11 year-olds mostly) with lots of time to learn.  Even at that age, though, you can see a big difference in performance levels.  Some kids play really well and others not so well.  And then there are the kids that are truly “outliers”.  I saw one such young man yesterday (sadly, playing for the other team).  I even talked to his father.  This kid was unbelievable.  He could handle the ball, he could shoot, and he understood the game.  Most importantly, he could “see” the whole court, all the time.  He knew what was going to happen before it happened.  When he was being double-teamed, he knew who was open.  He didn’t even need to look.  And in a split second the ball was going there.  To the open guy.  Which was sometimes amusing because very often the “open guy” had no clue that a pass was coming his way.  Boink.  Hard to handle a basketball when you don’t know it’s coming.

As a side note, I know that some people say that talent is a myth, that hard work and practice, practice, and more practice will get you there.  That in a very real way, we’re all created “equal”.  I don’t think so.  What this kid was doing can’t be taught and can’t be learned.  He was born with it.  Some of the other kids there could practice forever and never be able to do the things this guy was doing.  Can he get better?  Of course.  He’ll get a lot better.  Hard work will carry him to levels that even he can’t imagine yet.  But the core ingredient is the talent he was born with.  Without that, hard work is nothing but, well, hard work.  The game can still be fun and personally rewarding for the rest of us peons, but we’ll never see the NBA.  It’s a longshot, but this kid just might.

And then there was the Super Bowl.  I know everyone says that it was a classic, one of the greats.  Maybe it was.  But aside from the lights going out early in the second half, I thought it was kind of boring.  Another sign of old age, perhaps?  I didn’t like the halftime show, either.  I can’t give you a reason (I mean, who doesn’t like Beyonce?), but I was glad when it was over.  And the commercials?  Well, some were pretty good and some just plain old sucked.  Can you even fathom paying $3 million for 30 seconds and then finding out that everybody hated it?  I think that the “” commercial with the gorgeous model frenchkissing the goofy looking, overweight geek was in that category.  I’m guessing a few people upchucked their chicken wings during that one.  If I’d been eating, I’m pretty sure I would have.

Anyway, football is now officially over.  Now I can concentrate on college basketball.  All I have to do is figure out which school is in which conference these days.


2 Responses to “A Day for Sports”

  1. Earl

    Paul, I agree with you on the talent thing. Human beings have a lot of uniqueness as individuals so these predispositions are probably scientifically explainable if we had enough knowledge and understand of DNA, muscle fiber composition and brain cell functionality. However, our understanding of many of those areas reside in that mystery category — talent is a good enough word for now.

    • Paul Maxim

      You and I are definitely in the minority on that viewpoint, Earl. People tend to get really upset when you suggest that hard work and practice aren’t enough. I just tell them to watch the movie “Rudy” (about the Notre Dame football player). Here was a kid who worked 10 times harder than anyone else on the team, took some serious beatings in practice, but played in only 1 game for 1 play. A heroic effort, for sure. It made him famous. From that perspective, he was a “success”. From another perspective, though, it clearly demonstrated the difference between talent and hard work. While both are necessary, you just gotta have the “talent” first.


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