Day Ten of the Basketball 2.6 Challenge: counting the cost but feeling the value.

Believe it or not, this campaign is not really about how many basketballs I can throw in a hoop in 26 minutes, how many near misses I can frustratingly curse at or how many complete no-hopers have found themselves on the neighbours side of the fence.

 No, it’s part of charity wide campaign to draw attention to how children and young people in the East Midlands have been feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic over the last year.

And actually, it’s not really even about that: it’s about recognising that the real crisis that young people  face both here and across the UK, and indeed the world, is one of child poverty.  For the 5th richest nation in the world, our country’s child poverty statistics are disgraceful.

This is why we at The Mighty Creatives have established direct relationships with the End Child Poverty Campaign and regional organisations who have highlighted the roles of food banks in communities and how arts resource packs  can make a material difference to families’ financial welfare and quality of life.

“It takes the pressure off and – all these lovely things that people have got, but not had to go into debt for. For lots of people these things are normal, but not for everyone. They were extra things that we could provide for them, for the whole family, although it is for the kids it helps the whole family.”

Many of our partners in the areas hardest hit by poverty have highlighted how important receiving an arts pack which stimulated young people’s creativity was to their mental health:

“Mental health problems are so entrenched in our area – and we all know the effects a creative experience can have to remove the mind from the rabbit warren. We would do it again in a heartbeat. We felt very proud to be part of it, and part of the chain that got those packs out.”

We now want to extend our relationships with organisations working to address poverty. 

Our vision is to show people directly how just an apparently modest donation of arts resources can have life changing effects and this is where your help comes in. 

Just £2.60 can help a young person find the pleasure of finding a creative moment in the time of a heartbeat.

 A £26.00 donation can help that heartbeat moment shape a life time’s memory of the pleasures of creativity.

The cost is one thing: but the value of your donation is immeasurable.  That’s one thing I’m not forgetting in counting those misses, near misses and baskets.

And for those of us who love the numbers, here’s today’s results:

DayAttemptsNear MissesBasketsEffort (Baskets/ Attempt)Baskets/ Minute (BPM)FeelGood Factor
8Training Day

You can find out why I’m taking the 2.6 Basketball Challenge here  Any help you can offer is much appreciated!.

Day Three of the Basketball 2.6 Challenge: lies, damned lies, statistics and delusions.

Enthused by the possibilities of baselines, statistics and indisputable quantitative improvement, Day Three of the 2.6 challenge commenced in bright sunlight, no wind and a dry forecourt.  Perfect conditions to build on the 87.500000% improvement of yesterday of 0.57692308 BPM and a baseline effort score of 0.07731959 BPA.

Some 189 throws and 26 minutes later however, I was looking at a miserable two baskets achieved.  Two! After the amazing step forward of the previous day of 15!  What had gone wrong?

I could comfort myself though with a new statistic: the number of near misses.  Yvonne, my independent invigilator, recorded the number of occasions in which the ball hit the hoop but failed to succumb to the invitation to fall through the net and this generated a more cheering statistic: a whopping 87 near misses!

Even if it’s another baseline, it is at least an indication that given another couple of centimetres, the success rate could increase again rapidly.  The question remains though: centimetres of what? Elbow extension? Arm height? Standing to the left? Standing to the right?  The possible variations multiplied at an astonishing rate but unfortunately, I was still left with a sobering 0.07692308 BPM: i.e. a chronic 86.666666recurring % collapse of performance.  Back to the mentor, coach and as many YouTube videos as possible over the next 24 hours.

Mark Twain quoted that Benjamin Disraeli, the former British PM, claimed  there are lies, damned lies and statistics but I’m pretty sure that he had never tried shooting a few basketballs in his spare time.

(Whether he inspired the performance of the Bridgewater Eagles though is another matter.)

You can find out why I’m involved in the 2.6 Challenge – and how you can help – here.

Day One of the Basketball 2.6 Challenge: when in doubt, change the rules.

Like so much in life, I started with good intentions.

I’d planned (if that’s the right word) to throw a basketball hoop from a line, the regulation 15’ away from the hoop, 26 times and to time how long this took me.  And do this for 26 days with the intention to shorten that time on a daily basis. 

The first challenge was to find a basketball hoop and fortunately for me, our new neighbours had one stuck on the side of the kitchen wall, facing their driveway the width of which is about 18’.  They willingly agreed for me to use the hoop – probably because they’re away for much of the day and were probably privately relieved that they weren’t about to witness the bounce bounce pause thwack bounce bounce missed again dammit monologue that was to follow.

So, the first challenge was rapidly met and soon after the challenge of having independent verification was addressed too.  Our neighbour, Yvonne, volunteered to adjudicate the challenge and I gratefully accepted her offer. 

So, Day One dawned and all seemed straight forward enough.  I measure out a throw line 15’ from the hoop (informally known as the ‘Charity Stripe’ I’m reliably informed) with a measuring stick. Yvonne switches on her stopwatch. 

I remember the advice from Tahir about how to throw a basketball: BEEF, an acronym for “Balance” (yep, got that); Eyes on the target” (doddle); “Elbows at right angles”  (er… what?” “Follow Through” (of course, what else, it’s just like tennis. What could possibly go wrong?)

What could go wrong was of course pretty much everything.  Balance isn’t helped by running after a stray ball and then running back to the charity stripe to try again without stopping. The eye on the target is all very well if you completely understand which target it is you’re meant to have your eyes on.  The board?  The back of the hoop? The front of the hoop? The little logo half way up the board? Placing your elbows at right angles is all very well if you don’t expect to hold the ball in a particularly meaningful way. Follow through leads to a constant arc of optimism turning to disappointment as the ball repeats its trajectory of bounce bounce pause thwack bounce bounce missed again dammit.

After 10 minutes Yvonne is clearly worried about whether or not she has an evening to look forward to.  I have some managed to throw 4 balls into the hoop over this time and managed at least ten times more ‘ah, nearly’ moments. It looks like we might both have to stay about another hour or two if I’m to achieve the deceptively bland target of 26 hoops before retiring gracefully with a gin and tonic to assess how long it took me to do it.

After 20 minutes the success rate isn’t much better.  A further 4 hoops and a slightly lower proportion of “ah, nearly” moments.  A much higher ratio of “WTF is going on?” moments.

It’s at this point that I decide to follow all the best professional sporting advice and to decide to change the rules of the game.  Instead of timing how long it will take to throw 26 balls into the hoop, I’ll see how many I can throw in 26 minutes.  That way, we can see an end in sight and can thankfully retire to the comfort of a gin and tonic knowing that we shall live to confront another day of BEEF. The following six minutes yielded no more moments of success other than a relief that we could both get back to having a life that evening.

So, the final score on day one is 8 hoops over 26 minutes.  It does at least count as a baseline and if and when I get to throwing 26 hoops within the new target of 26 minutes, I will take heart that there has at least been some element of progression: especially if I can achieve it over the next 26 days.

Sport can quickly make a fool of you in a very short space of time and I have a feeling that this won’t the last time I remember that particularly embarrassing lesson.

You can find out why I’m involved in the 2.6 Challenge – and how you can help – here.

Boss Bike Rides: presences and absences

Riding around Wilford this morning (alone, as part of a governmentally approved exercise regime and adhering to all the new norms of current social behaviour i.e. look away now, step right out of the way and hold your breath for at least five minutes after you’ve inadvertently crossed someone’s path), I was struck about how some residential areas are named.  Off a small central service road, there was a Hannah Crescent, a Kelly Walk and an Aaron Close all jostling up in neighbourly comfort.  I wondered whether in the history of the planning of Wilford, a town planner had decided to name these roads in honour of the members of his family? Or his cats? Or long lost loves?

I pondered this with my remote Boss Bike Rider pal, Liam, a business advisor who has recently signed up to the Boss Bike Rider campaign and was attempting to ride across the urban landscape of Chiswick Roundabout in London.

He reminded me sombrely that one of the first most important things to do when you’re setting up a new business is to make sure the name indicates what you intend to produce, service or experience.

He told me about a few business start-ups who had a few salutary lessons about the naming of their businesses.  Albert, who wanted to set up a horror mountain themed entertainment business called Alpine Doom Accelerator; Betty who wanted to establish the Nottingham Vodka Company and Carol, who was intent on establishing Blue Sky Human Resource Consultancy. All excellent ventures with aspirational titles Liam remarked which strongly suggested the presence of a particular experience in engaging with that business.

However, Liam found out to his cost that there wasn’t an edelweiss anywhere to be seen when punters stepped off the bus in the afternoon of entertainment that Albert had prepared for them; more a case of nettles, brambles and unending ferns which got in their hair and made the afternoon an increasingly miserable experience; likewise, Liam was to find that Nottingham Vodka was not only not made in Nottingham but that it also  contained no vodka; and yes, you’ve guessed it, Blue Sky Marketing soon became mired in the murky business operational realities of behaviour control.

Quite why businesses do this is anyone’s guess,” mused Liam as I pushed back my back to the city as a result of acquiring a flat back tyre somewhere between the Embankment and Wilford. “Perhaps it’s aspirational, perhaps it’s wishful thinking, perhaps it’s just presentational fluff.”

“The word ‘community’ is also frequently used in this rhetorical manner,” I added, “with community policing, nursing and indeed community arts used to suggest the presence of something when all too often the reality is the absence of aforesaid thing.”

The problem is that this inability to name the business according to its presence, rather than an absence gives the business a bad name from the word go.  Promising one thing when the reality is the diametrical opposite, hardly engenders confidence in the customer that they’re getting a “does what it says on the tin” experience.

That advert for fence varnish might have been unnecessarily loud and crude – but it had the benefit of being straightforward and promising and both delivering the promise, as well as just promising a promise.

Liam promised to join up again on another Boss Bike Ride at some point in the future and share more of his insights on being the boss of a business start up.  In the meantime, I continued the search for a bicycle repair kit in the depths of my rucksack but to no avail.

This Boss Bike Ride was soon to become a Boss Schlepp Back To Town.  “Another salutary reminder,” added Liam before he hung up and continued to confront the joys of Chiswick Roundabout.

You can find out all about Boss Bike Rides here – come and join us!


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