In an office cluttered with books, one picture stands out on one of Jonathan Laskowitz's crowded shelves. At first glance, it appears to just be 15 sweaty males gathered under a basketball net. But to "Doc," as the other players call him, "lunchbox" basketball is more than just daily exercise.
"We are so crazy, some of us," says Laskowitz, an associate professor of sociology and lunchbox participant for more than 25 years. "We arrange our entire schedules around lunchbox. I make sure I don't teach before it or after. The one semester every two years that I have to teach from 1:10 to 2:25 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I miss lunchbox . . . and it kills me."
Lunchbox basketball on the IC campus hasn't changed much over the 30 years since it began: Ben Light Gymnasium, noon, half court, four- on-four, "shirts" vs. "skins," winners stay on. Lunchbox is open to all students, faculty, and staff; alumni and retired faculty have also come back to play. Women play occasionally ("They're always 'shirts,' " notes Laskowitz), although most of the regulars are men. Because nobody uses titles on the court, Laskowitz says, the games have a democratizing effect.
Laskowitz enjoys the games largely because of the friendships that are born there. "It's tied to the difference between knowing a person because of their formal position at IC and knowing other dimensions of their personality," he says. "It's much more satisfying to know a person in aspects other than just their job." Fred Madden, an associate professor of English and 14-year lunchbox veteran, adds, "Since the students and groups of individuals change and change over the years, there is a whole variety of different players, and that adds to the experience."
Photos by George Sapio