As I recently got back into playing basketball at the local YMCA which I just gave up, I came to realize just how strange it is that so many basketball players have an unnatural obsession on their height.
Back in my college days, I would sometimes eat in the same dining hall as the college athletes and the one time I ever sat really close to a set of basketball players I could over hear their conversation. What struck me as really odd back then was that half of their conversation revolved around how tall they were, or how tall other people were. One guy would tell the other guy about this player from another school, and they would go into his height by picking at it. The strange thing was they they didn’t mention the skill level of that kid, but just how large the opposing athlete was.
To these guys, it seemed like the height of a person defined who they were as a person. It was not their GPA, or GMAT scores, or what they had done in their lives. It was just their height. Back then, I just didn’t understand.
Now that I have started to watch basketball again, professional basketball, the thing that is always brought up is the players height.
Just watch the old 90’s bulls intro. Why is it that the announcers have to list how tall their players are? How often do I need to be reminded that Michael Jordan is 6′ 6″? The LA Lakers announcers do it too. (refer to this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojHOO4qbE4s). Being tall is not a skill, but people in the basketball world treat it as a skill. Being bigger does not make the player better.
Here is a sick truth that I would need to reveal about the nature of the game today. For most black american guys who play this game today, like in the streets of the inner city, basketball is actually a game of posturing, and showing off. (Refer to here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJixT7F-Vog) People don’t play the game for the fun, for the team effort, or for the personal skills that they develop. They play the game to exert their masculinity and express their dominance. In the African American community, the young males are told to be ultra-masculine in expression. The easiest way to exhibit their dominance and masculinity is being taller than other men. If they are taller than others, they are told to use their body to push through to the post. I can’t even begin to remember how many times I would be in a game where it felt like it was not 5-on-5 but 1-on-1. The ability to pass seems to have been lost on certain people.I personally love playing the game and hearing that swish as the ball goes through the hoop but I have decided to let go of playing this game, and stop all-together to get away from the game.
As I grow older, I realize just how many psychological hang-ups people have over their height when they are playing basketball.
Sometimes I start to question my own motives for even still watching this game. Do I really find this game where abnormally tall guys running (and jumping) up and down the court that mesmerizing? Could it be that at some level in my mind, I have an unhealthy obsession with height just like the fellow basketball players? How many other people in the world also seem to find their primary source of identity through their height?
I had decided long ago that the sport of American Football is a huge waste of time and resources, but now I am adding the sport of Basketball on that list. No more playing the game, and no more watching the game, either in real life or on the internet. Watching one more sports game or event is not going to improve my overall life in any way. Having the local hometown sports team win a national championship does not make my life better or even bring any real prestige to the city.
(I live in the greater Seattle/Pacific Northwest area and I saw the whole Superbowl phenomena happen two months ago. People would make sure to revolve their jobs and business around the football games. The local Whole Foods would announce over the air whether the Seahawks would win or not, and people would crowd around the TV in the local Costco. I am not sorry that the Seattle located team lost. Imagine the type of pressure the team would have been in if they had won a 2nd year. People would be forcing the guys on the team to win again for a 3-peat. )
When people say things like “We Won!” after the local sports team win, I always want to correct them in saying that it is NOT that ‘we won’ but that the team won, they just watched while sitting on their couches and drinking bear and eating chips. Somehow they are trying to find some way to feel good about themselves from the glory of other people’s accomplishments, through association. Maybe not everyone can have the god-given talent to play at the highest professional level and win in athletics, but in the long term, nobody in a hundred years will care about who won the 2014 American Football Superbowl Championship. I am happy that at least the professional athletes today can make millions of dollars, but in the long term, I pity them since everyone knows that the human body is bound to fail, and father time always wins last.