Life's unfairness is seldom more apparent than when a youngster who is four feet tall sets out to play basketball. The ball is huge and heavy, the court vast, the basket tiny and far away. And the other team generally shows up with some precocious giant who weighs a hundred pounds and towers five feet, maybe even five and a half.

All of which is beside the point, because the game is fast and fun, never mind lopsided scores. It has a music of its own: the drumbeat of the ball, the slap and squeak of sneakers, the thrill of whistles, the grind of the buzzer and, offcourt, out there on the margins of the world that is the game, the groans and shrieks and cheers of people who before and after the game are parents but meanwhile are only backup instruments.

When great basketball players reminisce about great games, they tend to speak of moments when they were so absorbed in the action that they were not thinking or planning but playing, doing things they could not have thought of because they could not have believed them to be possible. Moments, in other words, when they performed with the instincts and concentration and grace of a child.

The moments pictured here are from the current season of the Arlington Recreation Department's nine- and ten-year-olds division, but they could be from any place where kids play with the big round ball.