“I never really played basketball before”. This is what I said to myself, when I played basketball in the States for the first time. I was in the university’s fitness center. People I played with had some remarkable skills. They shot high percentage, they moved the ball around, they shared the ball, dunked the ball, blocked shot attempts, alley-ooped, etc. They could do all that amazing stuff with the ball. They played so good that it occurred to me I never played basketball in its true sense.
One thing which took me a long time to get used to was checking the ball. No matter if you are playing 3 on 3 or 1 on 1, you have to check the ball everytime. Checking the ball is passing the ball to your opponent, only when the ball is passed back to you, you can start the game. Among many other things, checking ball shows the game is to be taken seriously. It means you are up for the competition. It means you want to win the game and you want to make it right. By checking the ball, you give your opponent a chance to check if all players are matched. You make sure your opponent is ready and they will play to their fullest ability. The reason you do all these is to get a well-deserved victory, if you beat the opponent. It is a rule, bu not a written one. It is about courtesy. It is about fairness.
We do not do check-ball in Turkey. We just put the game into play without saying anything. We even take advantage when our opponents’ are not ready. We just deceive ourselves and the opponents. We just say we are playing for fun. We ignore the fact that life, in its entirety, is about competition.
This riff is not about checking the ball. It is not about basketball either. It is about how our culture differs from the western culture. It shows us what made the west what it is.