College - It's a time of freedom, new experiences, and personal growth. Personally, most of my lessons came from outside the classroom. My finance skills developed through budgeting out my drug and alcohol addictions in order to cooperate with my rent and MIP dues. The Photoshop program I was forced to buy for class felt worthless until I realized I could use it to make a fake parking pass. I even found out if you, very clearly, ask the lady at the STD clinic to send the bill to your college address, your parent's will still receive a notification. This then, unintentionally, created a situation with my father when he asked if the test came back negative while we were driving back from the hospital after my Grandpa died. "Yeah, Dad, Grandpa's dead, and I have AIDs. Tough week."
All that said, the most valuable lesson I took from college was that of segregation. As a sheltered white suburban child, I was unaware of it's continued existence. This specific type of segregation wasn't policy enforced, though. It happened naturally through the game of basketball.
The university I attended, for example, had a gym with four basketball courts. If you went to the courts during the peak business hours, you'll see the segregation, right out in the open. Let me break the four courts down for you:
Court A was for the Asians. If you enjoyed watching missed layups, awkward pivots, uncalled travels, shots hitting the top of the backboard, and 45-minute games to twelve, this was your place. Court A was by far the most segregated, mainly because speaking mandarin was required to play. Somehow, the Asian's are consistently able to find 12-15 kids shameless enough to play a form of basketball that belongs in 1891 when peach baskets were used as hoops. The one thing you can guarantee is that these guys are having fun. Well, I assume they're having fun; There's a lot of smiling. Again, they don't actually speak English, so I'm just speculating. It's also easier to smile when you know you're about to walk out to your $200,000 sports car. Either way, I respect it.
Court B was for the white's B-team. By being adjacent to the Asian court, you could almost be tricked into believing these guys were D-3 athletes. Once the Asian kids left, though, it was clear this was not the case. An alarmingly amount of kids who populate these courts aren't totally sure which hand is their dominant one. It's not until midway through their first shot that the muscle memory kicks in.
When it comes to the B-team, there will always be one overly-confident guy who's considered the alpha of the group. Actually, alpha is too strong of a word. He's better described as the overlord of the unathletic whites. He earned that role strictly by being the loudest one in the group; Not dissimilar to most Twitter users with checkmarks.
When a noticeably larger, more athletic group of guys show signs of taking over the court, his friends will recognize the hierarchy of nature and start to wince and fake stretch as though they're done for the night. But like a hyena with a death wish, this guy will convince four of them to attack the pride of lions. Unfortunately, it always ends in an onslaught—twelve to two. No amount of unsolicited advice he'll inevitably yell out to teammates could have helped.
To save his pride, he'll say things like, "Probably shouldn't have played that last game. More tired than I realized. The ACL I tore in high school after I dunked is tightening up."
This, as you can imagine, is a bald-faced lie. He's never had the athleticism to jump onto his bed, let alone dunk on a 10-foot rim. The only way that thing tore is if he was jumping to grab a game off the top shelf during his shift at GameStop. Either way, it's best to let this go. If you continue to engage with him, he will force you to take down his number and tell you to text him next time you're playing. He'll say things like, "Yeah, my buddies aren't really the athlete types. I only play with them for fun, but they're below my skill level. Hit me up any time you need a fifth."
It's also important to note how the pecking order works. More often than not, this court will be the first to be taken over if the gym is particularly full. Next, will come half of the Asian's court. Then, through a slow process, the Asian's will find themselves in the middle of a full-court game that they're not actually a part of. It's at this moment when they'll awkwardly leave. Is that mean or racist? I can't honestly say. It's more like small-scale gentrification, but I'm getting off-topic.
Court C was where you'd find the white's A-team. Granted, you should take "A-Team" with a grain of salt. If you're over 6'3" you might as well be Yao Ming. If there's someone who can reach the rim - heavy stress on the if - it's not uncommon for that person to shoot 25% from dunk. Yes, I said it: Shoot 25% from dunk. Besides that, you'll see the typical brand of white basketball: spot-up 3-pointers, pick and rolls, and crisp chest passes.
In this group, my favorite person to watch is the guy who played fullback at a Catholic private high school. He's strictly there for the cardio. Can't find him? Look for the thicc kid with a sleeveless t-shirt cut down the sides. His body type can be described as a human sprained ankle; all swollen and stiff. He's almost like one big trapezius muscle...
Lateral movement? Not a fucking chance. This guy only knows how to run in one direction, and that's straight. Aggression's the name of the game. Fouling is defense. He even dribbles like he's trying to physically abuse the ball. His technique resembles that of his favorite porn category - aggressive face fucking. After missed shots, he'll yell out explosive "FUCK's!!" Better get used to it because finesse is not this guys thing. He is, quite literally, the basketball embodiment of single-lens Oakley shades.
Although this court is majority white, that doesn't mean others aren't welcomed. Are you black, but not quite good enough to play on black court? No problem. Any team looking to pick up a player will take a flyer on you, no questions asked.
If I needed an extra player and saw a black guy on the sideline playing Pokemon, reading Harry Potter, and jacking off to Hentai porn, I'd still pick him over the most athletic looking white kid. It's just principle.
I should warn you, though: A majority of these black guys are on this court for a reason. They're playing Call of Duty in their free time, not NBA 2K…There's a lot of Stanley Hudson's around these courts (Is that derogatory?). What I'm trying to say is that they're not very good at basketball.
The blacks own court D. At my school, this was the first court you walked by. If you were white and under six feet tall, you knew to keep walking. It's nothing to be ashamed of, just be thankful you got the chance to watch.
The kids on this court are legit athletes. Dunks are commonplace, and a decent portion of these guys could have played some level of college ball.
That being said, this court isn't 100% segregated either. You'll get a few talented white kid's playing here and there. But they're not really white; they're "clear" sort of how Bill Murray describes Larry Bird in Space Jam:
If you ever want to get on court D as an average white guy, you have to treat each shoot around in between games as if it's the biggest tryout of your life. In all five years I was there, I was only selected to play on that court once.
As a 5'10" white guy, it was an honor to be recognized by the blacks. Sure, they only had nine people, making me a default choice to play, but it still felt like my own personal Disney movie moment. Imagine Rudy meets Double Teamed meets High School Musical.
That magical feeling quickly went away as soon as the game started. My Disney movie instantly transformed into a Zion Williamson highlight tape - Except I was the only small white kid, and everyone else was Zion Willamson.
It took three games for someone to pass me the ball. Finally, they had accepted me as part of their team. After I caught it, the squad and I broke into song, with racial and musical harmony meeting at a singular point...
Racism was solved, but there was still a game to be played, and it was down to next point wins.
After regaining my composure, I turned around and gave my defender a look to let him know I was serious.
Had the defender on my left side...
Went up for the game winning layup....
An argument broke out over who touched it last. There was only one way to settle the dispute: Shoot for ball. With perfect form, I drained the shot, and the ball was ours.
But deep down inside, I knew...I knew it was out on me. My conscience weighed heavy. As I debated the right thing to do, I thought back to a commercial I had recently seen that was set in an "urban" environment. I was sure that if I used what I had learned from it, I would gain the respect of those around me:
To my surprise, I did not receive the positive reinforcement that I had hoped for. I guess I forgot about that part of the commercial where everybody fucking hates you.
After giving the ball to the other team, they immediately scored a bucket, and we lost the court. From there on out, harsher segregation rules were implemented against the whites. Understandably so...
No, I'm just fucking around. I literally passed the ball right back to the guy who gave it to me. He had accidentally picked up his dribble and used me as a reset. That's the only reason I got the ball. I never even entertained the thought of shooting, but I did set a mean pick after I passed it back, so...
What was even the point of this article? Oh, yeah: segregation. Listen, that shit's fucked up unless we're talking about the natural process that takes place in a basketball gym. I'm all for watching real competition play out on the black courts while the whites and Asian's still have an opportunity to play elsewhere. In a way, it's kind of inclusion through segregation.
Fuck, that's deep...