Word on the Street

Karma Call (kahr’-muh kahl) noun. Describes those occasions during a pickup basketball game in which someone makes an iffy call simply because they feel it is owed to them due to one or more “bad” calls made previously by a player (or players) on the opposing team. This is the pickup equivalent of the makeup call.

Usage example:I know I didn’t travel, but that guy was making a karma call.”

Word trivia: Most veteran pickup ballers are intimately familiar with indignant rants like this: “Aw, come on, man. That call was bullsh*t. Well, fine. We get the next one, then.” And make no mistake, when somebody makes a statement like that, they mean it, and a cheesy call will usually follow within the next five minutes.

Take last night, for instance. Someone on my team seemingly knocked the ball out of bounds. However, he called a foul, claiming his defender had whacked his hand. Now, that’s where things should have ended, because – in a perfect pickup world – people are supposed to respect the call that was made. But the other team didn’t respect it, not one bit, and the guy I was matched up against said, “Oh yeah? We got next call.” About three or four possessions later, somebody partially deflected a pass to me and I had to battle for possession with a couple opposing players before finally gaining control of the ball. My guy immediately called traveling on me and made a determined beeline to the other end of the court. It was obviously a bogus call, but he wouldn’t back down. I walked up to him and said, “You know that was a crap call, right?” He just said, “You guys got your call. That’s ours.”

What made the situation even more pathetic than it already would have been was that this guy’s team was already up by double-digits – yeah, it was just one of those nights – and he was still getting all pissy about a call he didn’t agree with …which wasn’t even made against him and had no impact whatsoever on the game, by the way. And he used to play Division I ball for a major club. I figured he’d have a little more class than that.

Anyway, it’s your standard “two wrongs make a right” logical fallacy. And I just don’t get it. If you’re against bad calls, then making a bad call in your own defense isn’t going to change anything. It only perpetuates the “bad call” system by actually encouraging calls that are made out of spite and a sense of entitlement. Here’s a lesson everybody should take to heart, no matter what level they play at: You earn a call. They aren’t owed to you.

Further reading: Embarrassment call.

Got one? Seriously?! Buddha does not approve, my friend.

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Labels: Word on the Street

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