If anyone has ever played or watched a basketball game, this term might have come up in a team-mate raucous and sweaty snarl (e.g. “Get into the Paint, you dumb f**k”) or in the sports commentator half-time gibberish (e.g. “In this wondrous replay, we can see him, the majestic bla bla bla in the Paint, asking for the ball, not getting it, by the way do you know that last night at dinner, etc. ). If not, then : the Paint is the colloquial term used to describe on a basketball court the area just underneath the basket. It is limited by the endlines, the foul lanes and the free throw line. The Paint is the most critical area on the court, where much, if not all, of the game’s action takes place.
At University Hall (one of the on-campus Flinders University accomodation options) we have a basketball court just at the back of the main building. Almost every night, the court floodlights go on and from about 19:30 up to 23:00 the sound of bouncing balls, the calls for different plays, the whoops of joy for a three pointer gone in and other less appealing and polite forms of verbal and nonverbal language reverberate in the iron-fenced court.
Students from different countries (Australia, New Zealand, Samoan Islands, Italy, Singapore, USA, Poland, France) with a passion for basketball meet here and when the ball starts bouncing they invariably find themselves into the Paint. Here they sometimes amicably sometimes physically get to know each other. A joke there, a quick exchange when the ball goes the other way, a laugh, a groan of pain when the defender takes his job too seriously: the Paint breaks the ice. It lets people from different cultural backgrounds get together in the quest for the ball, protect it and shoot it into the hoop. There are no differences (except the height adavantage obviously 😀 ): all are equal and any fickle argument is left outside. When you are in the Paint only the basket and the other friends/players count.
The Paint is all this and more. And every night I can’t wait to get down there to meet ‘old’ friends and make new ones.