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Tom's basketball game is displaced by the Society for Creative Anachronism

Despite my steadily advancing age (and weight), I still play a little basketball on Sundays. We gather at the school where I coach and run up and down the court. There are some guys from Raytheon; my daughter and some of my former players show up sometimes.

The group I generally play with includes Tucson City Manager Mike Hein (who was a college teammate of new Phoenix Suns coach Terry Porter); Larry Hecker, a downtown lawyer who's a mover and shaker, although not so much on the basketball court; my brother-in-law, Jesse; a really cool computer geek named Ray; and Lisa Lovallo, a Republican who ran for state office a couple of years back.

Yes, a handful of Republicans do play basketball, but it's really easy to guard them, because they can only go to their right. Except nowadays, they spend a lot more of the public's money as they're doing so.

Sundays are cool. Some of my players will stop by to hang out, do homework or get some free tutoring (the gym is full of doctors, lawyers and engineers), and I'll put some of them to work so they can make a few bucks running the scoreboard.

A couple of Sundays ago, I was informed by the school that the gym wasn't available, because the entire school had been rented out to some organization. This isn't good, because if Hein doesn't get his weekly basketball fix, he's likely to do something crazy, like put a tent on top of the Tucson Convention Center.

(Here's a weird coincidence: One of the starters on my girls' basketball team is the granddaughter of Allen Norville, the guy who owns the land across from the TCC and who wants to have the city install the aforementioned tent for the Gem and Mineral Show. Norville was reportedly a stud ballplayer in his day, competing against the likes of the Big O, Oscar Robertson. Norville was on his way to the NBA when a detached retina derailed his career, so he just went out and became a bazillionaire.)

Just out of curiosity, I asked about the group that was using the school and was told that it was the SCA. I went online to look it up, and Google gave me Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, a paper company in Sweden. I figured that probably wasn't the right group, but I did learn that they were voted one of the most ethical companies ... somewhere.

As it turns out, the SCA in question is the Society for Creative Anachronism. All I can say is that these people are into it, in a really cool way. They put on this giant, all-day event that's kind of like a Renaissance faire, except I'm not supposed to call it that, because it's completely participatory--you can't just watch--and the people who asked me not to call it that all have swords.

I stopped by the gym early that morning to put up a sign in case some of the basketball players hadn't gotten the message. I walked into the gym, and it was full of guys wearing tights. Whenever I see guys in tights, I flash on the name of the guy who was the subject of several of Rodin's busts.

(That's the perfect combination of intellectual and crude. Only a handful of people will get it initially, and a few others will look it up.)

Anyway, these guys all had swords, and they weren't blanks. They made that nasty whooshing sound when they wielded them. I walked up to a man who looked like actor/director/comic-book guy Kevin Smith and asked him what the deal was. He explained that this was a gathering of the Kingdom of Atenveldt, which encompasses all of Arizona and small parts of Utah and California. They gather on a regular basis to re-create "the best pastimes and crafts of the Middle Ages."

According to the Atenveldt Web site (speaking of creative anachronisms), "The SCA has 19 Kingdoms (regional chapters) located around the world. The populace in those Kingdoms devote their free time to tournaments, festivals, educational collegiums (classes), feasts, revels and all sorts of arts and sciences dating from pre-1600s western Europe." Among the Kingdoms are Ealdormere, Northshield, Outlands and Ansteorra. According to the Web site, the Kingdom of Atlantia encompasses most of Florida but also "lays claim to Panama." That sounds serious.

Further proving that Cornell is better than Columbia, western New York is part of thelmearc, while eastern New York joins New Jersey, Delaware and several other states. Drachenwald includes all of Africa, Europe and the Middle East, but reportedly can't hang with Artemesia, which consists of Montana and parts of Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Colorado.

According to another part of the Web site, xiv.highlandswar.org, it says: "The rumors are true; a consortium of southerners led by the Barony of Sundragon is invading the beautiful and blessed lands of Ered Sul!" It's going to happen Aug. 7-10, although I'm not quite sure where Ered Sul is.

Anyway, I sincerely thought the SCA festival was the coolest thing. It was a hot and nasty day, but these people were all dressed in period raiment, and they were having a great time.

Next time they're in the gym, we'll challenge them to a game of basketball. Those tights won't help. We'll play them for their women! And some of those giant roasted turkey legs.

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