The team members were not there because their parents made them, because they were keeping in shape during the off season, or because they were hoping to make it big. The adult basketball players who competed in the Utah Summer Games were there because they love the sport.
“You can’t get more pure than this,” said Alphonse Jenkins, who came to play with his team from California. “Just a bunch of guys and girls who practice after work or on weekends or whenever they get a spare moment.”
Jenkins said events like that prove the depth of the love the players have for basketball.
“If you look at people who compete in games like (the Utah Summer Games) they are either kids who have school out during the summer, or retired people who can devote a week or so to their sport. We all have jobs and kids and other responsibilities that we work around in order to get here.”
Jenkins said he was using his yearly vacation time to compete in the games and also planned to tour around southern Utah with his family.
“This has to be more than just a basketball tournament to get my wife to let me come and do this,” he said laughing. “I told her, ‘oh, look. There’s Zion’s Park and Bryce Canyon and petroglyphs. Great stuff for the kids.’ But really it’s about coming down and playing basketball.”
The competition followed standard high school rules with some exceptions including a rule against dunking the ball and automatic technical fouls for vulgar language.
The events were separated between genders and age groups starting at over 18 with divisions for 25-30, 30-39, 40-49, and over 50.
Jenkins said the joy of competing in basketball is its own reward.
“I don’t know if we’ll win a gold, but if we do, no one will care. The guys at work will say, ‘oh, that’s neat,’ but then forget about it. We do this because we love to play ball. We’d play ball even if events like this didn’t take place, but thankfully they do.”