The third in a virtual glossary of terms either specific to the 1980s or to our staff’s own upbringing in said decade. This time around we focus on a term that isn’t specific to the culture of the Eightiesologist’s upbringing.
- 1. Circular figures or objects
- 2. The game of basketball, the act of shooting baskets, or simply loitering around a basketball court with only minor intent to play the sport and major intent to be social
The simple term of “shooting hoops” or “going to shoot hoops” invokes the basic act of playing the sport of basketball or practicing the art of shooting the basketball into the net, or hoop. However, this came to take on a more significant meaning in my world towards the end of the ‘80s and early ‘90s.
It’s important to note that playing basketball and shooting hoops were not technically the same thing. I played basketball in high school for four years. This entailed attending practices everyday except Sunday, grueling practices that included a wind spring so psychotic that they were called “suicides.” The practices were in preparation for games which took us all over Bergen County and sometimes into dreaded Hudson County. Junior year, as my classmates took over the starting positions on the Varsity team, the Wood-Ridge Blue Devils went into an awful losing spell that lasted until our Senior year. This was basketball for us. Miserable losses and ridiculous practices. The best part of a basketball game was going to Amore afterwards for cheese steak sandwiches and hanging out with our friends.
Shooting hoops was an altogether different experience. Stripped of the stigma of a losing team or of being a benchwarmer, this was a freelance experience, a freeform experience. While I played basketball with my high school classmates, I shot hoops with my friends from town who went to various different Catholic high schools. We all played basketball for our different HS teams but came together on common ground during in-season off-days and pretty much every other time imaginable to shoot hoops at the Assumption. For many of us, it was a walk across the street or a few blocks away. On a school day, it was the first thing you did upon your return home. On the weekend, it was pretty much what we did from late morning until it was too dark to play anymore. Sometimes even that couldn’t stop us as we let our eyes adjust and the nearby street lamps to give us just enough vision to shoot hoops.
What is Hoops? It’s not complicated. The weather had to be disastrous to prevent us from shooting hoops. With that cooperation, we individually made our ways to the Assumption parking lot. Sometimes a phone call or a ringed doorbell induced a scheduled arrival but more times than not, it was simply an instinctual gathering. I had the advantage of being able to see the court and hear a bouncing basketball from my house which gave me an edge to be timely and ever-present. Lace up your high-tops, put on sweats or shorts, grab a ball and head over.