The Office Pirates pointed it out today, and we agree. There is only one thing more curious and depressing than middle-aged guys playing pickup basketball: middle-aged guys playing fake pickup basketball for a clothing catalogue photo shoot. Meet the Jolly Tanktops. We're not sure what exactly this is for; Macy's would be our guess. But there are several factors here that tip us off to the fact that this "game" is staged.
• Abundance of hair care products. You're 40, your wife has let you out of the house for a few blessed moments without the kids, and you're going to spend precious time moussing? Not likely.
• Everyone's smiling and laughing. The average middle-aged basketball pickup group has been playing together for at least 15 years, which means that the group has a history fueled by bitterness and resentment. This is a place where old scores are settled, anger is vented, and injuries flair up with the frequency of oil fires in Kabul. There is no laughter. Only pain.
• Tank tops ahoy! The only explanation for the way these players are dressed is that they're on a day off from a business conference in a far off city. Their luggage has been lost. There was only one store open. It was Sears. Or they live in a country with repressive laws that forbid printing on cloth.
• It's outdoors. No self-respecting male plays pickup basketball outdoors after age 22. It's hell on the joints. Besides, somebody was the eighth man for the high school basketball team 20 years ago, and knows the coach well enough to get the key to the gym.
• It's just like the NHL. Apparently, all the black models were busy that day shooting the business casual ad.
Our favorite caption on this photo series, by the way, is No. 8: "C'mon Steve, deflating the ball isn't going to make you un-divorced."
The Art Of The Pickup [SI.com]