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Why Our Lunchtime Basketball League Is a Slam Dunk

Where can you rub elbows with a partner, work with people from multiple departments, and a fast break is a good thing? Bresslergroup lunchtime basketball.

About a year and a half ago, some of my fellow BGers and I started talking about playing basketball. We found a park about a half mile from the office (a nice warmup jog for some and an unnecessarily long trek for others) and we were set. Our original location of 10th and Lombard was made famous by Joel Embiid last spring. Sadly he was never there during any of our games.  We’ve since moved inside to a closer location, but it’s still the same objective: play basketball, have fun, and get some exercise.

Swish! Nothing But Net

Lunchtime activities and sporting events with coworkers are nothing new around here. We’ve gone climbing, paint-balling, sailing, mountain biking, and played skee-ball, among other things. (Lunchtime Quizzo, anyone?) But lunchtime basketball is the most regular and frequent — it’s every Wednesday and it’s open to all. There’s no skill or working basketball knowledge required (although it helps).

We have regulars on the court from all departments whose titles range from intern to partner. All that matters is playing ball, breaking a sweat, and having a good time. The rules of the playground rule: Call your own fouls, no pre-arranged teams, you miss and you wait. We typically play three on three or maybe try to full-court if we have enough people. We usually get in two games, sometimes three if Andrew is there … it always helps to have one of our managing partners encouraging us to play one more game.

Assists On-Court and Off

In addition to the shot of exercise at lunch to energize your afternoon, this type of environment creates a great opportunity to get to know your coworkers in a different way. We have about seven or eight regulars who make it most weeks and a mix of ten or so who are able to attend here and there. Yes, the conversations are casual with some mild trash talk sprinkled in, but these small connections help when you’re crunching on a deadline or working together on a brainstorm.

As the company has grown over the past few years, it’s become more difficult to get to know everyone. I’m one of Bresslergroup’s “boomerang employees.” When I was first here, back in the mid-aughts, there were around 20 employees. I left and came back, and today there are more than seventy. That means there are many people I don’t work with on a day-to-day basis. The Electrical Engineering group was probably the department I was least familiar with when I returned to Bresslergroup. As it turns out, two of our key BG ballers are electrical engineers, Kevin Murphy and Nick McGill. Sure, I knew who they were from walking around the office but after playing ball with them on a regular basis, they’ve become my go-to resources for EE questions.

I’m one of Bresslergroup’s “boomerang employees.” When I was first here, back in the mid-aughts, there were around 20 employees. I left and came back, and today there are more than seventy.

Even though we’re there to play basketball, much of the chatter is about work-related topics and shared experiences. Sometimes we discuss past projects, share insight from previous experiences, or just open up a general discussion about a current project. I can think of a conversation I had with a coworker where I learned he was a former client of Bresslergroup’s, and that led to us talking about what a client’s perspective of a given situation might be. Or talking over a lighting feature or LED animation with Nick on the walk over. These small, informal conversations help to build connections with colleagues. These closer relationships may change how you approach a project. I think it’s possible you tend to go the extra mile for people with whom you feel especially connected.

Bresslergroup prides itself on being a multi-disciplinary design firm and these links between different people from different disciplines are what make this company tick. Whether it’s basketball or other BG activities, I’ve realized over the past year or so the value of these opportunities to get to know each other better.

Trust the Process

If you want to start your own lunchtime league, here are some tips:

  • Pick an activity that you know a good number of people will like.
  • Open it to everyone, because you will be surprised who might have interest.
  • Recruit outside of your own discipline.
  • Invite people personally — again it’s all about making connections.
  • Get a partner involved (you will always get the third game in).
  • Try to mix up the different disciplines when playing, if you can. (This is a rule for us during monthly Lunchtime Quizzo, and also during our Phun Philadelphia Scavenger Hunts.)
  • And keep asking people — some people need a little more of a nudge than others.

And of course, have fun — and never take yourselves too seriously. After all, it’s not like you’re playing for the NBA. (Or are you ….?)