The Economics of Trash Can Basketball

A few evenings ago, when my sons told me that they wanted to play basketball, I immediately thought of all the reasons why we couldn’t play basketball.

We don’t have a goal.

We don’t have a basketball.

It’s football season.

They didn’t care about any of that.  It was already settled in their minds.  We were playing basketball.

While I was constructing our basketball court I thought about all of the things I would need to buy so that we could play real basketball next time.  After all, anything worth doing is worth doing right, right?  Money is no option when it’s for the children.

I’ll need a good concrete slab over here.  Nothing elaborate.  Maybe just half the size of a regulation basketball court.  Oh, and if we could get a logo painted on it, that would be great too.  Something like Sanderz Boyz Ballaz.  Keep it simple.

Construction was complete when I moved our outdoor trash can into the yard and put a bucket on top of it.  There was a strong scent of rotten fish with a hint of mustard.  When we started playing I felt like one of Fat Albert’s friends.

For a ball we used one of those balls that you get at Big Don’s Kwick Dollar.  You know, the kind that weighs something like .02 ounces.  It was sort of orange so we had that going for us but there was no way any of us was dribbling it on the grass.  I decided that we should skip the dribbling part and just carry the ball, sort of like what happens in the NBA every night.

When we started playing, something strange happened.

We were having fun.

My oldest son was diving for loose balls like Charles Oakley in game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

My three-year-old kept laughing.  Crazy laughing.  No matter what happened.  And he wasn’t wearing a shirt or shoes.  He was our Dennis Rodman, only with more tattoos.

And my wife and I were having a blast.  I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to dunk on someone and now that I have a three-year-old and a trash can for a basketball goal, I finally know.  Trust me, it’s awesome!  You should’ve seen me.

Our basketball game reminded me that something doesn’t have to be regulation size or have flashing lights to be fun.

We do our kids great harm when we act as though good memories and good times have to be bought for 36 monthly payments of $120 with 0.1% financing.  We can blame our politicians all we want, and there’s plenty that should go their way, but we also have to look in the mirror if we want to figure out at least part of the reason why our economy is in the tank.  All the politicians did was jump on an opportunity that the American people gave them.

For a generation or two, parents have been paying their kids off instead of playing with them.  Now the bill is coming due and in a lot of cases, everything those parents bought is broken, including their relationships with their kids.  It turns out that those toys with giant flashing lights are more expensive than we first thought.

Our trash can basketball game didn’t cost a thing but our family got a lot in return.

We were together.

We were doing something.

We were having fun.

Years from now, I want my boys to enjoy good childhood memories.  I’m often tempted to think that this will require a substantial monetary investment.  But in reality their memories aren’t likely to involve any backyard state of the art basketball facility.

Instead, I think that their memories will be about having fun with each other and with what we already had laying around.

Sort of like Fat Albert and his friends.