With March Madness here, you might ask why college kids should be having all the fun.
Actually, they aren’t. Granny Basketball, founded in 2005, provides fun, exercise and a little good-natured competition for women 50 and older.
This six-player version of women’s basketball dates back to 1898. Kansas teams were among the best in the nation to play it. In addition to healthy activity, the modern version provides an avenue for charitable giving; wholesome, nostalgic, and sometimes humorous entertainment; recognition for mature women; and a method of preserving the history of six-on-six basketball.
The 1920s six-on-six style of play was a gentler game. Granny Basketball League organizers have developed this into a social activity and sport well suited for active women age 50 or over who cherish the opportunity to play again and for women who have not played basketball until now.
Uniforms are characteristic of the period. Granny basketball players wear bloomers and a numbered middy collar. Colorful knee socks reflect each Granny Basketball team’s identity.
The ICT AeroBelles team is one of 10 teams in Kansas and one of 40 teams in nine states. ICT AeroBelles were organized in the summer of 2019 and the team played a few games before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled all play. AeroBelles members played an exhibition game during halftime of a Wichita State University women’s basketball game.
At the beginning of the 2020 league season, there were more than 450 players on 40 teams in nine states, including Iowa with 15; Minnesota, two; Texas, four; Kansas, 10; Missouri, three; Virginia, one; Louisiana, one; Oklahoma, two; and Wisconsin, two.
Prior to the pandemic, Granny Basketball teams had begun their short-lived 2020 league season. Weekly league games are typically conducted between February and May each year. Annual post-season events include a national tournament in July. In addition, the Kansas Senior Games features a Granny Basketball tournament in September. As the pandemic eases and courts begin to open once again, the Granny Basketball League plans to begin to resume activities with safety precautions in place.
Some of the rules reflect a quainter period of our history. For example, no bare legs or upper arms may be revealed. Infractions constitute a technical foul (i.e., “flesh foul”). No running or jumping, though players may “hurry.” No physical contact, no “hovering,” or impeding progress. Three points are scored if a shot is underhanded; two points are scored for other shots. If a player falls during play, all play stops and everyone shouts, “Granny down!” and assistance is immediately given to the downed player.
Granny Basketball continues to grow. If you are interested in joining one of the teams in Wichita or Kansas, please contact Karen Baxter at firstname.lastname@example.org.