BASKETBALL BANNED

March with its NCAA ‘madness’ is usually prime basketball time, but it ran hot during the widely-viewed NBA playoffs and hard to avoid coverage of the LA Clipper’s owner/soon-to-be-ex-owner situation.

Perhaps a coincidence, basketball is also a topic-du-jour at several urban elementary schools of a prominent west coast city, where teachers have banned it from their school’s playground feeling it fosters false hopes for fame and riches and promotes ‘neighborhood behavior’ (social irresponsibility), which taken in sum diminishes the value kids place on education.

These schools have silenced the otherwise playground staple of basketballs thumpa-thumping on the blacktop. Respecting the complexity of the sociocultural dynamics, what’s to be made of the decision?

Teachers are often hard-wired to affect the here-and-now because that’s what they have. They can’t recreate their kids’ past, nor beyond influence really control their future. Teachers have what’s in front of them in real time, which also means a lingering wonder if what they start by way of education will see a successful finish.

The good one’s get this and with urgency run with it, for they understand the odds are stacked against the kids. Even with far more good than not occurring in these schools and (sadly unnoticed) brilliant teaching, similar to other urban school districts, this one’s graduation rate hovers around 30 percent. Out of a typical 24-student 1st grade class, 8 will walk across a high school graduation stage.

Adding another layer to the circumstance, many kids share the teachers’ here-and-now sentiment. Especially in underserved communities, too many kids only know here-and-now because unpredictability is their normal. A successful finish – using education to build a satisfying, quality life is unimaginable.

Circling back to basketball, the elementary teachers who banned it take issue for wondering to what end the kids are playing, and feel its lure of fame and fortune sabotages their efforts to instill the value of education. Since just a minuscule few realize the finish of playing professional basketball, they even more fight the sentiment from the kids that education is unnecessary. It’s also not lost on them that the NCAA trend of one-and-done fortifies the education-as-obsolete attitude.

Surmounting an effort to match the culturally iconic NBA…and the NCAA! You gotta love their… “gumption” (we will keep it g-rated).

It’s pointless to disparage any entity here. The NBA is exploding in popularity across the globe (and strongly committed to social goodwill), NCAA basketball for both men and women has never been stronger (and student-athletes DO graduate), elementary teachers WILL inherit the earth, and kids are amazingly resilient and with but a glimmer of hope and pathway in place ought to have money put on them.

But it is a wake-up call for the NBA and NCAA. No one wants it banned from the very platform that has enabled its prominence. Understand the dynamics and (continue to) message the importance of (finishing) education. This is your here-and-now.

Oh, and you really don’t want these elementary teachers to come calling.

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