Welcome to the Space Jam

by Ponsius Hanz Odaga

Do you know what is truly amazing? Sports culture around the world– how no matter where you go, if you play the same sport as someone or are interested in it, you can become instant friends.


I was in Paris once for for a college class, and I absolutely loved wandering around the city. On the first day there, after we were done with the first half of our class activities and had some free time, I decided to wander. After leaving a cafe that I found suitable for some course-required travel writing, I took the wayfaring wanderers route back to the hotel. In other words, the most complicated route that was directed by the feeling of Oh! That looks cool. This feeling helped me find a basketball court where there were a couple of kids around my age just casually shooting around. So I watched them for a little while, about five minutes, then I decided that I had to jump in.

Just so you know, I am not that good at basketball. So this wasn’t going to be a show of me looking like a basketball wizard and dunking over my opponents. But despite my mediocrity, a mixture of unknown jet lag, being in the honeymoon phase with Paris (I still am), as well as an overall tiredness in my body, made the perfect altered state of consciousness where I had to play basketball at that very moment. So I just walked on to the court, said “Bonjour,” and immediately forgot all the French that I was studying on the plane. All I could say was “I am American,” and that wasn’t helpful at all. So I made a myriad of basketball related hand gestures asking for a 2v2 game and they understood perfectly. We took free throw shots and the first two to make them were on a team. Those two were me and my partner whose name I believe was Matthieu.

So remember how I said I am not that good at basketball? Well this game kinda proved it. See the thing is that it rained that day, and this was one of those rubber courts, and I was wearing skate shoes.Basically the ground was slippery, my shoes had very poor grip, so I was slipping & sliding all over the place. These kids knew how to handle it though, and Matthieu especially carried me through this game. I made couple of shots, but he won it for us somehow.

In the end, the game was cut short because I had to run back to the hotel for dinner at Creperies with my class. The final score was 3 – 5 and I had a awesome time. I shook hands with all the guys I played with, and said “Au revoir” as I left. They responded to me in the same fashion, and I felt like the new kid at school when he meets his first new friends– Elated! This really made me realize the power of sports above other hobbies to connect people.


A particular sport is played the same all across the globe, and enjoyed in the same fashion. I mean, that’s the reason Michael Jordan could play basketball with animated characters IN SPACE!! Where with other hobbies like particular media (comics books, tv, video games, etc.) knitting, tabletop games, whittling or whatever you are into, can be enjoyed by a completely differently audience in a completely different manner. Many of us have run into this issue where we will watch a show with someone else and they will laugh at all the wrong things.

A sport is a great way to make new friends, especially sports where pick up games are really common. So for the aspiring wanders out there don’t be afraid to join a pick up game, even if you are not great at the sport as long as you like playing for fun. Heck! There was even one time a nice skater (during this same trip) let me borrow his board, because I felt like I had to skate. Just do it! Talk to these people who love what you love and you are guaranteed to have a good time. People are nicer than you would ever expect, and more than happy to welcome you to jam with them.



Everybody get up, it’s time to slam now

We got a real jam goin’ down

Welcome to the Space Jam

Here’s your chance, do your dance at the Space Jam, alright

Quad City Dj’s -Space Jam 


One comment on “Welcome to the Space Jam

  1. So glad you were able to realize that sports is the universal language (and I love your Space Jam reference). Part of the reason I started sports blogging was from all of the friends I have made over the years simply talking sports. Your story expands, quite literally, much farther than mine, and I love how you had the guts to just take the court and learn a valuable lesson.

    Great piece. Loved it and am looking forward to more.

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