Remember when I said one of my childhood hobbies was just “sports”?
In the winter of eighth grade I moved to a new city and started fresh at a middle school with what I intended to be an entirely new life and personality. I was no longer a soccer star who dabbled (dribbled) in basketball and lacrosse in her spare time—I was now a singer. Sports were out! My big plan was to become a show choir girl who had never heard of cleats or free throws.
Bored in gym class one day, I was casually sinking three-pointers and half-court shorts when the girl’s basketball coach–slash–gym teacher–slash–sex-ed instructor–slash–probably also the principal approached me with an offer to join the team mid-season. I said “No, but I’ll sing the national anthem at your next game?” And baby, you know I sang that national anthem with the thickest country accent you’ve ever heard (completely by accident). It was a hit. I’m not saying this unique rendition launched my singing career, but I will say I gladly left sports behind in the dust, forgetting it was something I ever loved at all.
Smash cut to 2023.
I’m standing in Dick’s Sporting Goods, ready to purchase a basketball and a soccer ball. How did I get here? I would love to tell you. In the midst of honoring my inner child with sparkly beaded headbands and craft clubs, my partner and I went to our first Angel City FC game in Los Angeles—the women’s soccer team—and my sporty inner child kicked her way out with a vengeance. “Remember me, self? The girl who wanted to be Mia Hamm and loved going to ’76ers games and cared more about wearing those Adidas slides to school than learning? Yeah, we’re bringing all of that back with a regulation-size beaded basketball that will definitely not be able to bounce.”
There are a couple ways you could go about crafting a regulation-size beaded basketball that will definitely not be able to bounce. You could, of course, use an actual basketball as your base, but I’m not entirely sure how well hot-glued beads stick to leather. Or you could do what I did, which was spend an entire hour creating a basketball out of my favorite household material: aluminum foil. I’d like to acknowledge that the piercing crunch of foil won’t be everyone’s favorite sound to hear for a full hour. And I cannot stress enough that making a regulation-size basketball craft requires much more foil than you’d ever expect. Then, once you have a solid collection of beads you’d like to use, prepare for many hours of hot gluing. Am I making this sound fun? I hope so, because it is—if you’ve ever enjoyed kitschy items, organizing files, and alone time, this is a perfect craft for you. And yes, this one takes a while, but when your creation starts to look like a real basketball, your inner child will do a perfectly sloppy joy cartwheel on the front lawn of your brain.
Sports, singing, crafts, theater, comedy, wearing sparkly stuff—I am thrilled to be honoring my inner child, watching every version of her mingle at the cocktail party that is my life. With every shitty craft I make, Kid Sam is right there—reminding me to play, to make art that’s just for me, and at the very least, to just fucking create something. Because when we’re dealing with shitty crafts, it’s not important that it’s perfect—it’s important that you made it. That, my friends, is a Sam dunk.