When I was a (fat, lazy) kid, I wanted to learn more about sports without going outside. It seemed so difficult, though, because it is assumed that you know what is going on when you watch a game on TV. I decided to use video games to my advantage.

Football seemed particularly impenetrable, so I bought Madden 2003 with Marshall Faulk on the cover. I was terrible at first, of course, but it didn’t take long before I knew what the “I formation” was. I made my way through all the major sports, amassing a sizable library of EA Sports games.

The one I never got into, for whatever reason, was basketball. Earlier this year, I decided to bridge that gap. I went out and bought a used copy of NBA Live 07. It has been immense fun trying to figure out how to do a pickĀ and roll. This game is old enough that LeBron had yet to go to the Heat, so I use the Cavs and pretend that I’m playing NBA Live 2015.

Sports video games are very useful tools for understanding the intricacies of any game. You get a chance to simulate real world situations at your own pace, which provides obvious advantages to anyone trying to learn how certain plays and strategies work.

Next time someone tells you video games are a waste of time, remember that only about 75% of them will melt your brain. The rest can be very useful and rewarding.

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