A few dozen Iowa grandmothers have found an unusual way to keep the bounce in their step and have fun while exercising, by playing league basketball. Granny Basketball League director Barbara McPherson of Lansing organized the first game a few years ago as a one-time novelty fundraiser, but the other ladies didn’t want to quit. Now with eight Iowa teams, they play six-on-six by 1920s rules — while wearing hand-sewn uniforms with bloomers.
McPherson says “The rules are kind of reminiscent of the 1920s. There’s no running, no jumping and no physical contact. We get two dribbles per possession and we play in three courts like they did in the 1920s, so we have two forwards, two centers and two guards. Each of those people have to stay in their third of the court. You can’t cross the line.” She says the grannies range in age from their 50s to their 80s and do they draw crowds? “Yes,” she says, laughing. “Most people say, ‘I have to see this. I just can’t picture an 81-year-old woman playing basketball.’ We don’t feel our age inside, I guess that’s what’s important. We’re still 16 on the inside.” McPherson says there’s plenty of room for more teams to join in the fun.
McPherson says “We’d love to have some more teams formed and invite all of the old grannies in Iowa to start up a team and play with us.” The teams play league games at least once a month, in addition to their practices, so McPherson says they’re staying spry. She says the big honor comes April 15th as the grannies play an exhibition match before the Harlem Globetrotters game at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.