Basketball: What makes it special?

Basketball season is coming up at West and many other places. The sport is played by hundreds of millions around the world and has proved to be one of the most popular sports around. But what makes it so special?

The+Varsity++basketball+teams+of+West+and+Prairie+play+at+West+High+in+January+2017.
The Varsity  basketball teams of West and Prairie play at West High in January 2017.

The Varsity basketball teams of West and Prairie play at West High in January 2017.

The Varsity basketball teams of West and Prairie play at West High in January 2017.

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The swoosh of the hoop. The squeaking of many pairs of shoes running across the court. The sharp whistle from the referee. The clang as the ball hits the rim and many pairs of hands reach up to grab it. Then comes the loud buzzing sound which indicates the end of a game. Only one team comes out victorious, and the outcome may lead to some players being upset and disheveled, or some happy and congratulating. That is what your typical basketball game looks like.

To say basketball is a popular sport would be an understatement. According to a survey by Scarborough USA, around 31 million people (ages eighteen or older) play basketball in the United States, and was shown in another by FIBA that at least 450 million, or one fourteenth of the entire world population, play globally. As of the 2016 school year, almost 1 million high schoolers took part in basketball at school in the United States.

Obviously people play for a variety of reasons, but what are they? Some have said it is due to getting to know others on a team and meet new people, while some just play for the health and staying in shape benefits.

“Well, a benefit of playing basketball would be getting in shape and it feels good when you play and score,” said Aaron Fennell-Chametzky ’20, a long-time basketball fan who has been playing since before seventh grade, where he joined the basketball team and played until eighth grade.

“Basketball provides good exercise and can help you meet new people,” said Sam Fennell-Chametzky ‘20, also an avid basketball fan and player despite not playing on any school teams.

[Basketball] can help with team building and cooperative activities and can help you learn to work with other people”

— Sam Fennell-Chametzky '20

As for playing on a team, there are benefits for doing that, too. “Playing on a team is fun,” said Aaron Fennell-Chametzky. “You get to learn new ball handling skills you likely would not learn on your own and there are the benefits of meeting new people and getting new friends.”

Sam Fennell-Chametzky agreed. “It can help with team building and cooperative activities and can help you learn to work with other people,” he said.

At West, basketball is split into different groups. There are the freshmen basketball team, sophomore basketball team, and the varsity basketball team. Charlie Moreland ‘20 played on the freshman team last year as well as being on the highest team in junior high. For Moreland, basketball has played a big part in his life, as he has been playing since the age of six and on organized teams since the age of eight.

“I have always liked basketball, it is a very [engaging] sport to play and watch,” he said.

As for benefits of playing on a team, Moreland said, “I like playing on a team because the pressure is not just on you to succeed, and you can put the blame on other teammates for mistakes.”

Coach BJ Mayer decided to take the sport a step further, becoming a basketball coach. Currently, he is the head coach of the girls varsity team at West. He recalled being a big sports fan for his entire life and how he went on to play on his high school team.

“I believe that playing teaches you lessons needed to allow you to be successful in life like hard work, perseverance, and being a part of a team,” he said. “People don’t always remember the scores of games when they are older. They often remember the times spent with friends and teammates.”

People don’t always remember the scores of games when they are older. They often remember the times spent with friends and teammates.”

— Coach BJ Mayer

Becoming a coach was something that he had been looking to pursue since he was a child. His father was a coach and he saw the opportunity as a way to help students learn life lessons while playing a game.

“Coaching basketball is another way to teach players lessons in life,” said Mayer. “ It uses many things that are needed to be successful in life like working hard, persevering, playing a role, and working together.”

All in all, the responses said generally the same things about basketball. There are health benefits, as it is good exercise that gets you in shape. But the bigger benefit shown was not getting in shape, but more getting to know others and getting to learn to work on a team. Once people move on and look back at their basketball career, they likely will not be fondly remembering how many points they scored or how much exercise they got. However, they will clearly remember how they got to meet new people and form new friendships while facing challenges and learning important skills along the way. That is what makes basketball special to many people.

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