One Game Too Many

The phenomenon is familiar to anybody who plays pick-up basketball. (It might be unique to pick-up hoops-- none of the other sports I play regularly involve multiple discrete games.) You get a bunch of players together, and you play a game to 15. Then a second game to 15. And, hey, that's a pretty good run right there, and lunch hour is almost over, and maybe you should get back to work...

"One more game," somebody says.

The justification is always different. If the teams split the first two games, it's a rubber match. If one team won both, it's a chance for the other team to get redemption. Or maybe it's just Friday, and you weren't really going to do anything in the afternoon, anyway, now were you?

"One more game," somebody says. And one by one, people agree to it. The last couple of guys have to be talked into it-- "C'mon, man, if you leave, we won't have enough to run full-court..."-- but eventually, enough people come around to play one more game.

And it's always a mistake. Always.

The "One more game" is almost always one game too many. The guys who were fired up to play one more are running all over the place, like it was the first game of the day. The guys who had to be talked into it are walking up the court, playing almost no defense. (To be fair, they're twice the age of the guys doing all the running.)

It's a carnival of bad shots, a festival of fast-break lay-ups. Somebody will attempt an alley-oop pass (it won't work). Somebody who has no business shooting from more than six feet away will jack up a three. They might even hit it-- it's that sort of game.

Somebody will turn an ankle, or sprain a finger, or go back to the office with a black eye. Somebody might lose their temper, but it's more likely that they'll just ruefully shake their heads watching yet another wild shot carom off the shot clock.

"One more game" is always a mistake. And yet, it almost always works. We fall for it every time. The first few games were too good, with a great flow, crisp passing, hot shooting. Or they were too bad, bricks left and right, passes to nobody, we can't go home on that note. "One more game" will let you hang onto the moment, or get the bad taste out of your mouth, or just put off answering that awkward email.

It never works. Except for the procrastination thing. "One more game" does buy you a little more time away from whatever you're really supposed to be doing. And maybe that's all you're really after.

It's a staple of pick-up basketball. If you've never walked up the court saying "Why in hell did I agree to play this game?," you've never really played. It's absolutely maddening, and yet there's always the chance that you'll be the guy to bank in that improbable three-pointer, or actually connect on that alley-oop pass. It's all of a piece with the reason you show up at the gym in the first place.

If you need me in the next hour or two, I'll be at the gym. For one game longer than I ought to be.

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By Carl Brannen (not verified) on 31 Oct 2007 #permalink

Wait till your my age. Then "one more game" will be the first game. (And still wrong :-)

One more beer.

By PhysioProf (not verified) on 03 Nov 2007 #permalink

I seem to remember being the guy coaxing you into those "one more games," Chad. I also remember being the only one dumb enough to still be running with you during them. Hope all is well at the U. I'll be down to play sometime.