Subbin' In: Equating basketball and ice fishing

After decades of watching boys’ and girls’ basketball games and ice fishing, including eight times this winter, I have come to realize that there are similarities between the two activities I hadn’t dreamed possible. I suppose I hadn’t noticed them until now because the differences are so blatantly obvious!

In one (ok, it’s basketball), the purpose is to score points by tossing the ball through a hoop. It’s an active pursuit, involving complex strategies. Basketball involves running, jumping, dribbling, passing, positioning, quickness, ball-handling, and, perhaps most of all, the coordination of individual efforts with those of teammates. A loss is a team loss, and blame is to be shared collectively. It’s a tough game.

In ice fishing, the purpose is to catch fish on a hook that is lowered into the water. It requires no running, jumping, dribbling, passing, quickness and ball-handling, and the only positioning about which to be concerned is somehow getting yourself directly above actual fish. This can be difficult! Finally, ice fishing is an individual endeavor. While success can be hogged by an individual, there is no one else to blame for failure. It can be a tough, lonely game.

Those differences are immense, but they boil down to these two things:1) an active teamwork sport vs. a passive individual sport; and 2) defense; in one (ok, it’s basketball), defense is important. In the other, one should be in attack mode all the time. Yet, some differences are subtle. Just try sitting atop an inverted five-gallon pail while at the end of the basketball bench! It’s unlikely to get you more playing time. Try running and jumping around while ice fishing! It’s unlikely to help with your catch.

So, there I was on February 23 and 27, and again on March 3, 6 and 8, sitting on my inverted bucket, fishing for crappies atop a 20” thick slab of ice and staring into an icy cylinder of seven-inch diameter at a bright orange bobber, through which ran a virtually invisible fishing line of four-pound test, at the bottom of which was a tiny colorful ice jig with a small, wiggly crappie minnow impaled thereon.

On the preceding basketball evenings of February 26 and March 2, I sat atop plastic bleachers, staring toward a three-dimensional space, roughly 80’ long x 50’ wide x 25’ high, at ten young men as they ran, jumped, dribbled, passed, positioned, ball-handled and attempted to coordinate their efforts and motions with those of similarly-clad teammates, all of whom wore different colored shoes and had Covid masks strapped thereon.

As I watched the games, I couldn’t help but think of catching fish, and, similarly, as I caught limits of crappies on four of those five days, I couldn’t help but think of playing basketball.

I now realize that crappie minnows are like basketball players; sometimes they have bad days and must be replaced. Outwardly, they seem fine, but mentally I guess, they’re not as into it as they need to be! And have you noticed that smaller basketball players (minnows) are sometimes more effective than larger ones. I’ve seen this play out hundreds of times.

What great enjoyment I get from both activities! Active. Passive. It’s an awesome mix, don’t you think?

Outdoor lunch update: My outdoor lunches continue. So far: December 21 with Brian; 25 degrees; January 12 with Terry, 30 degrees; February 12 with Chad, minus 8 degrees; and, March 4 with Rick, 35 degrees. Who’s next?

LOREN BRABEC is a contributing sports writer for the Isanti-Chisago County Star and author of several Braham sports books.

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