It started with a blog post.

"Have you spent your entire life feeling really weird because you like both books and basketball?

"Well, luckily for you, WORD feels your pain and wants to make it all better.

"We’re starting a summer basketball league.  Not quite sure what format, yet--that’ll be determined by how many people join up.  But we’ve got American Playground across Franklin Street and we are determined to use it.  Both men and women are welcome.  The league will play from May to August, and we’ll do our best to work with everybody’s schedules.

One catch: this league is for book lovers only."

100 emails later, we had a full league! Eight teams played this year. We gave them each a team color, and they came up with the names:

White: The Elements of Style

Red: Mrs. Balloway

Orange: The Oranges of Wrath

Green: The Virginia Wolves

Blue: A Tree Dunks In Brooklyn

Purple: Purple Pros

Grey: Spaulding's Greys: A Confederacy of Dunks

Black: The 451s

And then we had a delightful summer of basketball every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening! The Brooklyn Paper wrote a nice article about the league, and The L Magazine named us Best Basketball League for Nerds (though, really, we were honored just to be nominated).

At the end of the season, Spaulding's Greys upset number-one-ranked A Tree Dunks In Brooklyn to become league champs. (We also raised $400 for the Greenpoint Food Pantry, as the Greenpoint Reformed Church hosted our end-of-season potluck.) The league created new friendships, strengthened existing ones, and proved to the world that even people who make jokes about punctuation on a regular basis can be (fairly) athletic. We can't wait to do it again next year. (Want in? Email to be added to the basketball mailing list. You can also join the WORD basketball league Facebook group.)

Perhaps it's all best summed up by this excerpt from a lovely essay by Katherine Arathoon of The Elements of Style, in which she lists things she learned from the league:

"1) Basketball requires a lot of running. Like, a LOT of running. Fortunately we had a good showing of teammates that first game, because there was a steady rotation of subbing-out-before-my-heart-explodes. Some of us were a little hung over from the previous night’s adventures; some of us were just woefully out of shape. Safe to say, by game’s end most of us looked like teammate Mike in this picture.

"2) Despite the dramatic amounts of running, basketball is a lot of fun. Who knew? Much to my surprise, I was enjoying myself. And I was occasionally good at defense, which, for a total beginner, was very pleasing indeed. "Most of all, my teammates proved to be just as awesome on-court as off; encouraging, hilarious, and in some instances enthusiastically clad in short-shorts. From ampersand to ellipses, from asterisk to exclamation point, I couldn’t ask for a better group. Week after week we have thundered up and down the court with great dexterity, generally taking a triumphant second-place in every game we play, and once even winning!