Growing up as a kid in Southern California, I was accustomed to two things with regards to the school year:
- Grading periods were measured in “quarters” — each approximately 9 weeks in length. 123
- The school year — mid-September to mid-June — would run in close parallel to the NBA season — early October for the preseason to the NBA Finals in June.4
Per item #1 above, I still like to think of how the topics that we cover in class can be broken up logically into quarters. 5
As for item #2, here are a few parallels I see between the school year and the NBA season:
- THE START OF THE SEASON (SEPT/OCT):
SCHOOL: Students and teachers are excited to come back, as the year ahead holds promise and potential for everybody.6
NBA SEASON: Players and coaches are excited to report back, as the season ahead holds promise and potential for almost everybody.7
- OH WAIT… YOU MEAN THE YEAR ACTUALLY STARTED? (OCT-NOV-ish)
SCHOOL: Students are so excited about re-establishing their social lives that they forget that they do, in fact, have homework and tests. Sparkly promises of unlimited potential for all get washed away in the realities of reality. 8 And sadly, the only thing anyone seems to care about is football.
NBA SEASON: Well, truly… NBA teams can be all over the place at this juncture – great teams have been known to go both ways, but sadly, just like school: The only thing that real sports fans seem to care about is football.
- THE DOG DAYS (JAN – EARLY FEB):
SCHOOL: Kids come back from the Winter Break, brains frosted over, and limp into the end of the 4th six weeks with uninspiring lifelessness. 910
NBA SEASON: Yes, the NBA season is wayyyy-too-long of a grind, and good teams11 routinely limp into the All-Star Break with uninspiring lifelessness.
- “WINNING TIME”12 (MARCH-MAY):
SCHOOL: Upon finally finding their brains, students begin to get their butts in gear for the stretch run. A serious sense of urgency prevails. Hopefully by this point, teachers and students have developed a good understanding of each other, so things are clicking on all cylinders. Hopefully.
NBA SEASON: With the playoffs on the horizon, the great teams stop screwing around and start playing for keeps. A serious sense of urgency prevails. Hopefully coaches and players have developed a good understanding of one another, and things are clicking on all cylinders.
Of course, if an NBA team is so far out of the playoff race,13 then this is NOT “winning time”. Those teams have no real reason to try and basically tank the rest of the season, hoping for a high lottery pick and a great start to the next stage of life. I suppose the closest school analogy for this would be: SENIORITIS.14
With one week to go until Spring Break,15 this would mark the close of the 3rd quarter. As far as weeks go, this would be an anti-climatic one, at best:
Truth be told, though, things are actually beginning to click on all cylinders. It always seems a bit unjust that things usually start to get really good when we are so close to the end. But that’s really the cycle of life, isn’t it?
As I type this on Sunday afternoon, the weather here in Central Texas has taken a sudden turn for the cold, with overnight temps projected to be in the 20’s. And if school gets canned tomorrow, that would be poetic justice indeed, as tomorrow is actually a B-day.
Translation: B-day AP Stat classes would have their major exam bumped from Wednesday to Friday — a.k.a., SENIOR SKIP DAY.
- But we called them “quarters” — NOT “9-weeks” [↩]
- When I moved to Houston my junior year of high school, getting used to 6-weeks grading periods was one of the toughest adjustments I had to make. [↩]
- Speaking of things that seemed weird to a teenager moving from Cali to Texas: the type of food they served in the cafeteria — namely chicken fried steak and white gravy — seemed odd. So were the weird accents and the steamy weather and… oh I could go on and on… and on… [↩]
- Of course, growing up as a kid in SoCal, the latter usually ended up with the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Yeah, don’t even start with me about this years’ Lakers. (We gotta give everyone else a chance every now and then…) [↩]
- In AP Stat, for instance, the end of the 1st quarter would mark the move into bi-variate data (scatterplots/regressions), while the end of the 3rd quarter marks the end of inference with proportions & means, and into Chi-squared testing. Those are landmark moments that make sense. Truth be told, I still don’t get how a six-weeks makes sense, logistically or logically. Then again, I still don’t get how white gravy makes sense… [↩]
- “Yes! My kid made 70’s in regular last year but I’m SURE they can handle Pre-AP! You’ll see!!!” [↩]
- Except for the Clippers, who always stunk in the 80’s. Go figure that today, they’re actually a really good ball club. [↩]
- “Well, maybe we should consider switching out of Pre-AP…” [↩]
- Cue: “the 4th six weeks is always the hardest” [↩]
- Generally, there is one word to sum up how EVERYBODY feels during this time of the school year: “BLEGHGHGH” [↩]
- ESPECIALLY the Phil Jackson Chicago and LA teams [↩]
- As Magic Johnson put it [↩]
- Yes, like this year’s Lakers. [↩]
- Or summer school. [↩]
- Week #26, if anyone is keeping track. [↩]
- Wheeeee!!! [↩]
- Double-wheeeee!!! [↩]