What started out as a one-time novelty fundraiser has ended up as a new basketball league in Iowa — made especially for grandmothers. Barbara McPherson is director of the Granny Basketball League , which has eight Iowa teams and continues to expand each year. McPherson, who lives in far northeast Iowa, explains how the league came about in 2005.
McPherson says: "The original thought was to have a fundraiser during Fish Days in Lansing, our town celebration, and put on an exhibition game and raise money for the Old Stone School. After we got done with that game, nobody wanted to quit playing so it’s just evolved from there and more teams were formed and it’s taken on a life of its own." She says the six-on-six teams play with their own set of rules that are rooted in the basketball games of eight decades ago.
McPherson says: "I wanted to get some exercise but I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do except play basketball, and then I remembered the 1920s rules and thought, even at my age, I can play a third of the court. We also needed to raise money for a building here in Lansing on the National Register of Historic Places." She says the Iowa players range in age from 50 to 81 and they -do- draw good audiences, though she says their league is a long ways from the NBA.
"Yes it is, quite different," McPherson says, laughing. "We aren’t anything like them except for the bloomers, you know, the way they wear the baggy pants? The men’s bloomers. If they had some elastic around the knee, they’d look more similar to us. Other than that, there’s no similarity." The Granny League plans an exhibition game April 15th in Des Moines, prior to the Harlem Globetrotters match.