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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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HPER offers pick-up league

By Jon Gilbert

Twice a week, athletes from the U gather on Crimson Court in HPER East. A few wear sweat bands and knee braces. One jumps rope off to the side to get some blood pumping. Some stretch and talk about their day and the current sporting events.

But the bleachers are pushed into the wall and there are no referees. This isn’t the U women’s volleyball team. These athletes are students and U employees gathered for a competitive game of pick-up basketball.

Every Tuesday and Thursday at noon, about 25 professors, graduate students, advisers and others match up for some full-court action in HPER E-101.

John Burkart, who used to work at the Research Institute, began playing on Crimson Court in 1975, but the game even goes back a few years before that. Nobody from the original games attends consistently anymore, so when these games actually started is a bit of a mystery.

“It was kind of a closed game then,” Burkart said. “You either had to know someone or we would have to need another player.”

Burkart was invited to a game and has been playing ever since. What used to be a Monday through Friday event has settled into a semiweekly affair.

“It was a group of older guys, but it got to be a younger group, which it is now,” Burkart said.

One younger player is Pat McGaffin. The undergraduate history major started playing two years ago when his brother told him about the games.

McGaffin enjoys the opportunity to play ball and also likes to get some exercise. He said the games are typically played with good sportsmanship.

“Every once in a while a couple of people start going at each other,” McGaffin said. “But there are no punches thrown.”

An occasional shove or two after an errant elbow are not uncommon, but a scramble for a loose ball usually ends in opposing players scraping themselves off the court while sharing a good laugh.

Everyone calls their own fouls. The fouler usually admits his guilt before the shooter accuses. After a terrible shot, a curse might echo through the court, followed by an apology to teammates.

Jump shots are as accurate as they are awkward. Passing is prioritized over hogging the ball and cherry-picking is absolutely unacceptable.

University employees use lunch breaks for the shirts-and-skins scrimmages. Friendships are made and in some cases, rediscovered.

Jay Marcus and Rob Line played basketball together at Meridian High School in Idaho. Years later, they found themselves posting each other up on Crimson Court.

Line, a former BYU basketball player, now works as an instructor at the LDS Institute of Religion at the U. Marcus is a vendor to the U.

The group is looking to expand.

“We want to play every day so we try to tell people about (the games),” McGaffin said.

Players don’t have to be able to dunk or even nail a jumper. Nevertheless, behind-the-back passes and reverse layups highlight the competition. Being able to set a solid pick is crucial to a player’s success.

With a young crop of players, the roundballers on Crimson Court plan on lacing up for some time.

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Skins give shirts a bump.

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