By Dominic Gideon
My quest for the perfect jump shot began when I was a small child tagging alongside my dad to his pick-up basketball games. I would watch these games intently, hoping maybe one day I could gracefully drain jump shots like my dad. As I grew older I continued to go with him to these games so I could shoot around and work on perfecting my shot while the grown-ups competed.
Normally at this point in the players’ basketball careers, they know what they’re good at and what they’re not.
These guys no longer foolishly attempt to drive through five defenders to put up a ridiculous floater or go one-on-one with the defender to culminate in a contested fade away three. My usual routine during these games was to go to the side of the court where my dad was on offense, studiously observe his team’s possession, then hop on the court to heave up a couple shots, then scurry out of bounds before the disgruntled dads would kick my ball off the court.
As I transitioned into high school, I had the honor to partake in these esteemed competitions, during which I inherited a great deal of basketball wisdom from those older men.
They taught me how to play the game authentically.
As a result, I appreciated more deeply the beauty found in the art of basketball. I cultivated that art, working on my game so I could participate more fully in that beauty. I’ve put a lot of time into that endeavor, but the one aspect of my game which still haunts me is my jump shot. I’ve spent countless hours in the gym, I’ve shot tens of thousands of shots, and I’ve endlessly tinkered with my form throughout my life,
but I’ve still struggled to find that perfect jumper for which I’ve been laboring.
I’ve thought about my basketball upbringing on the courts of my dad’s pick-up games and its parallel to my Catholic upbringing in the pews on Sundays. I’ve thought about how the more I’ve learned and improved in basketball, the more beauty I’ve been able to see in it; and likewise, how the more I learn and grow in faith, the more I fall in love with Jesus and His Church.
I’ve thought about how these fathers, whom I had watched play past their physical prime, have always had to adapt to their maturing bodies; and likewise, how my faith life is altered every day from my experience with Christ.
But the parallel I’ve focused on the most over the years is the parallel between my flawed jump shot and my struggle with sin.
Sometimes I linger in the gym, taking shot after shot, trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong and what I need to do better, and beating myself up about how many years I’ve tried to figure out the same problem. Then I think about how the same thing is going on in the confessional: How many times am I going to confess these same sins?! My struggle continues. There are times when I feel like I’ve got it down pat, then there are times I feel more lost than ever.
But for some reason I keep on shooting and I keep on striving for holiness.
It’s because I have experienced joy and beauty of swooshing a three in the heat of a tied game and I’ve experienced the peace and consolation of turning to God instead of turning to judgment, hate, lust, or arrogance; thus I will always be yearning for the goodness of those experiences even when I’m far from them.
At this point in my quest, I’ve realized the perfect jump shot, as well as sainthood, is still quite far from my grasp. Yet I know that the struggle towards the beauty and goodness of perfection is the only way for me to get any closer to it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dominic Gideon is a sophomore in college at Borromeo Seminary in the Diocese of Cleveland and takes classes at John Carroll University where he’s majoring in Creative Writing and Philosophy. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, loves his hometown, and is a passionate Cleveland sports fan no matter how great or terrible they are. Dominic has always had a passion for writing and sports throughout his life. He has continued playing basketball while at Borromeo as a part of their team with whom he hopes to win the inter-seminary tournament in Columbus. He also enjoys listening to indie rock, spending time with friends, and most importantly, spreading the Gospel. @theCLEdomocracy @theBuckstar