There are some things you take for granted when you grow up in an American household, primarily a melanated American household. Sports for instance. American kids take for granted the access they have to play so many types of sports without the threat of “Receiving a slap my friend”, for wanting to play other sports. When you grow up Nigerian, your pretty much regulated and restricted to one kind…FUTBOL!!!
My dad loved this game. I mean really, why wouldn’t he? His country’s Futbol team are called the Super Eagles and if you let him tell it, he should have been the starting forward(NO!! He was not on their team. Maybe he dreamt of playing or something. You know how dad’s are). Growing up, all I remember is seeing soccer on television. Soccer was such a dominate force in the house, he would record VHS tapes of matches and then make me watch it with him.
By the time I had reached fifth grade, my interest in other sports were starting to develop. Around this time, my dad had started watching basketball and football on television, so my hopes of playing had increased. **Side Note: I have never understood why African men feel as if they know sports stars personally.He would talk about players like they were related to us or something**. My old man went from being a Super Eagle to being an Atlanta Hawks player. At the end of the day, I didn’t care, I just thought to myself “Finally a sport I can actually play with other kids”!
We lived in an apartment complex during this time, and like all apartment complexes, we had a basket ball court. Me being a youngster and thinking my dad was actually athletic, asked if he would teach me some basketball moves. If any one reading this grew up Nigerian as well, then you know, a Yoruba man will claim knowledge of any and all sports, events and happenings (bless their hearts). So, here we are on the court and I ask him to show me how to dribble and shoot, like Dominique Wilkins. he takes the ball and tries to dribble between his legs and the ball bounces to the other side of the court. I’m thinking “Thats not how Dominique did it”. He tries again, this time without the leg dribble and he takes it to the rack. In retrospect, my dad had absolutely no ball handling skills whatsoever.
Anyway, he does this same dribbling to the right and brick layup routine at least four/five more times, before he says “Your a Yoruba boy, and like all Yoruba children, soccer is what you should play”. He then proceeds to take the basketball and dribble and juggle it like a soccer ball! At this point three things crossed my mind; one, Thats not what Dominique would’ve done. Two, here we go with the soccer thing again, and three is it worth saying that I thought we came here to play basketball, (the answer to that question was NO!).
Needless to say, I went on to actually playing on my middle school basketball team. Not because I was any good, but because we paid tuition and we had a small team, but mainly because we paid tuition.
The Mad Nigerian Strikes Again.