A day at the Granny Basketball League
It was just another Saturday morning at Andover’s Farha Sports Center last weekend.
Its courts were filled by scads of kids sprinting to and fro, parents munching on brought-along snacks — and, of course, 97 granny-aged basketball players in bloomers.
The “Granny Basketball League” is serious business — a version of the game that adheres to women’s basketball rules of 1920, for women ages 50 and over.
The sport has grown in popularity over the last few years, and Kansas now has five teams, all in the northeastern part of the state.
But organizers want to recruit Wichita women “of a certain age” to start a local team and join the Granny Basketball League.
“Besides just getting out and being active and having fun, you make so many friends,” said Michele Clark, deputy director of the league. “We have a couple players that live here or have connections here, and it’d be really easy for us to help get them started.”
How does one play Granny Basketball?
It’s a 6-on-6 game, and the court is divided into three sections. Two players from each team must stay in their designated section the whole time — only forwards ever shoot the ball.
There’s also a dress code: Bloomers, middy blouses and knee-high stockings.
If any skin is shown, referees have license to call a “flesh foul” on the player.
Running and jumping are strictly disallowed — though players can “hurry” back and forth if they wish.
“No dunking,” added Pat Conner, 87.
Underhanded “granny shots” count for extra points, as well.
For Conner, playing Granny Basketball is a mother-daughter pastime. Both Conner and her daughter Debbie Puga play for the Kansas Gray Tornadoes in Lawrence — though Puga lives in Wichita.
“It’s been great playing with Mom and bonding in that way,” Puga said. “We’re both former PE teachers, and we’ve got a lot in common. It’s nice to see all levels of women out here — some have played college ball and some have never played in their life. It’s a nice community experience.”
The minimum number of players on a team is five (if a team is shorthanded, it can field only one center) — though most hover around 14-15 players.
A passerby at the Farha Sports Center on Saturday said the sight of the grannies playing was the “craziest thing” she’d seen, “but in an awesome way.”
“We might go over to the grocery store and recruit — look for some tall, silver-haired ladies maybe,” Clark said with a laugh.