Present could spark return to the ‘own game’

Posted December 31, 2013 at 9:53 am

JAN. 1 HOME STRETCH COLUMN — PETE TEMPLE, SPORTS EDITOR

I have written before about what a weird kid I was, but was recently reminded of it again.

My greatest accomplishment of those years was developing what I call the “own game.” That is, pretending to play a sport, while playing the roles of both teams and the crowd.

This took a variety of forms. One house we lived in had a brick chimney that stuck out of the side, next to the driveway. The chimney went all the way up the side of the house, and I would spend hours throwing a rubber ball against it – low for grounders, high for pop flies – and keep score. Individual bricks stuck out in various places, causing the ball to sometimes bounce in unpredictable directions, and adding to the fun.

Football was probably my weirdest one. I would charge onto the field by myself, huddle with myself, even tackle myself.

“Own games” were played in other sports as well. In each case, I always made sure – quite the opposite of what happens in real life – that the team I wanted to win, would.

Christmas brought back these memories, when my sons received, among other fabulous items, an indoor basketball set.

It features two hoops and a wireless scoreboard, which not only shows the time remaining but keeps the score. Every time a ball goes through the hoop, it tallies two points.

As a kid, I remember thinking that scoreboards, and scoreboard clocks in particular, were about the coolest things on earth. I made a variety of efforts to construct these on my own.

I tried making the kind of scoreboard you used to see in kids’ sports games, with the digits on wheels that you could rotate so that the proper one would appear through an opening. The toughest decision with this type of scoreboard was whether to have it display “07″ or just “7″ after the first touchdown.

I also made varied attempts at timekeeping. A lot of the timepieces we now take for granted were unavailable then, so I was left with such options as a sand timer, an egg timer that went “ding” when a certain number of minutes expired, and so on.

I even tried to invent an audio timer. I sat with a tape recorder and a microphone and verbally counted down the minutes and seconds, so that when I was playing my “own game” I could run the tape and hear how much time remained.

Told you I was weird.

These efforts don’t compare at all with the hoop-and-scoreboard set my boys are probably playing with as I write this.

But when they go back to school after the break, or are at the neighbor’s…maybe it will be time to resurrect the “own game.”

Some kids never really grow up. Or stop being weird.

Bla