For my part, I enjoy watching a little basketball on occasion. Back in the day, I even played on a team or two. But my mother in law dearly loved basketball. She played in high school and in college, and to this day, faithfully follows her favorite teams.
All the “hoop-la” about basketball this time of year reminded me of an article I came across a few years ago. The piece appeared in “The Guardian” back on April 5, 2017 and was titled: “Hard Maple: Why Basketball's Perfect Surface Has Lasted More Than a Century”.
The subtitle was equally intriguing: “Since It Was Invented In 1891, Almost Everything about Basketball Has Changed. But One Constant Is the Maple Flooring – Hard, Durable and Beautiful To Look At”.
It seems that the one thing about basketball that hasn't changed since James Naismith invented the game way back in 1891 is the floor of a basketball court. Even the first game was played on a floor of hard maple. Why was maple selected? Well, it seems that maple flooring is harder than red oak, black walnut, or cherry flooring, and its tight grain made it easier to clean and maintain.
The icing on the cake was the discovery that maple flooring also turned out to be the perfect surface for dribbling a basketball. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the NCAA said the official courts for both the men's and women's Final Fours were made of “500 trees of northern maple carefully harvested from the Two-Hearted River Forest Reserve in Michigan's Upper Peninsula”.
Later on, professional teams followed suit. The courts of all but one National Basketball Association team are composed of hard maple. The Boston Celtics alone play on a red-oak parquet floor. Still, hard maple offers the most consistent playing surface, and also provides “bounce-back”, or shock resistance, which helps to lessen fatigue on players’ knees and ankles.
As I read this article, I was reminded of the importance of a good foundation. It really does matter what the floor of a basketball court consists of. The same is true for football fields, baseball fields, and soccer fields. And if what is underneath matters in sports, how much more does it matter in life itself?!
Little wonder that Jesus reminded us of the importance of a good foundation in life. In the conclusion to His famed Sermon on the Mount (as recorded in the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verses 24-27), He states:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Basketball players need and appreciate a good solid floor beneath them as they pursue their sport. In much the same manner, you and I need a solid foundation underneath us as we go about the pursuits of life.
There is no better foundation for this than the one provided for us by the Lord Himself! I myself have chosen to walk there. I hope you have as well.