The Possibility of Basketball
There is a strategic center point in Eurasia that stretches north/south from Finland to Iran. France, Germany and Russia have tried to control it. USA and UK have tried to deny them. There is a Rim Thesis stretching east/west from North Africa to the Middle East to South Asia to east Asia and the Southwest Pacific. The USA/UK have tried to control it with sea power. Germany and Russia have tried to break through that rim. Those two grand strategic concepts are all ye need to know to understand the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, the Gulf Wars and the Regime Change Wars to come. To control these two realms one must control the sea, the air and space. One must control information, digital connection, CBW, nuclear, climate, energy, water and food. China and India have been added to the mix of states with the power (economic and military force) to vie for such control. This is the conflicted human order lurching forward dangerously through the 21st century. First religion, then art, then ideology, then Olympic sport, then popular entertainment, then televised sport, then drugs, then social media were tried to bind us together to see our common humanity. All have fallen dangerously short of the goal. As fantastic as it seems now, basketball may one day become the thing that saves us from our lethal differences. It has saved America from black-white racism by de-rationalizing the prisoner’s game of race fear. It has done what soccer and other games have not done. It has made a part of humanity more integrated and tolerant. It is doing for women what it did for men. It is a long shot that it could do the same for the world, but the global sports apparel oligopoly and media seem destined to bring basketball to the world. And so the greatest game ever invented has a chance to work its magic on the world.
@jaybate-1.0 I bet Dr. James Naismith would be whistling a happy tune in his grave to hear you say that Jaybate. I really hope its true. Basketball IS the greatest sport and it also seems to be able to bring together many different nations without violence or hatred that you see in soccer.
Interestingly, where I live in the deep south, it doesn’t have that unifying effect. I go to afair amount of HS basketball games and the rosters are usually bereft of Caucasians, even in schools where there is a broad diversity in the student body. Football is that unifier here however. Everyone wants to play football and our school in our town reflects the racial demographics of our town.
I hope so, I hope so. I think about him a lot and always when I hit the submit button. It is not so much that I am trying to please him, for from what I understand of him, he would probably not have approved of my sense of humor and the liberties I take with taste and orthodoxy at times. But I try always to be true to his humane spirit and to his guiding principle that basketball is a game to channel boys’ (and now girls’) aggressive, competitive tendencies via a set of rules prohibiting as much contact as possible and channelling those energies into motion and teamwork on a wood court with a rectangle painted on it ,and further with two goals on each end substituted for pounding another human being into a bloody, concussed mess.
(Note: I know basketball has much contact in it, but the rules are clear that the contact in it is either sneaky violation, or flagrant, and in either case, all involved understand that the physical contact that occurs is still child’s play compared to the designed, maximum impact contact of, say, football.
James Naismith’s game always points to a deep truth; that whether or not human beings choose to, they have the ability to pursue opposing goals without resorting to designed violence to attain them; this is the deep humane meaning that the game teaches almost without most participants knowing it. Further, when participants do pursue opposing goals without bludgeoning each other to death, they realize that they can enjoy the thrill of the competition, savor the victory, endure the loss, learn from the victory and from the loss, and gain respect for both the winner and the loser, no matter how ferociously they compete, and then walk away from the competition closer, rather than farther apart from each other afterwards. And penultimately, the game gives them repeated chances to come to grips with each other in this civilizing way, if after any given competition bad blood remains. And ultimately, if the bad blood can never be overcome, with the respect and admiration that usually accrues from fair competition, the two teams can agree never to play each other again. And so in the end, the game of basketball ensures from best case, to worst case, that the competitive, aggressive tendencies of young men are channeled in constructive, not destructive ways, and our culture grows just a tiny bit more functional and friendly with each game played.
Or so it seems to me.
(Note: the strategic use of violence in the game is why I am so vigilant and outspoken about the frequent drift toward XTReme Muscle. All the practical good of the game in the long term, ranging from boy’s and girls learning to compete within physically safe limits, to the infrequent cases of some few children finding a way to education and prosperity, and to the therapeutic effects of the game on our nation, all of these hinge on the lesson of how to compete without winning by physically beating the opponent to a bloody, concussed pulp. Basketball teaches and reinforces this lesson again and again despite the TV contracts, the Petro-ShoeCo contracts, the monies under the table, the fixers, and so on. Basketball stands as one of America’s few noteworthy contributions to civilizing persons. We should all be very proud and protective of it, as we are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and art. These these are most worthwhile contributions to our posterities and to humanity. Basketball has changed many Americans for the better, despite the corruption that often seems so repugnant. It appears to be changing many persons overseas, too. And if its virtue is defended against those that would barbarize it, or turn it into some only accessible to elites, its potential for improving human relations over the long term is very large in deed.
Blacks and whites (aka Caucasian Americans and African Americans–the reversal of order is intentional to signal as much race equivalence on my part as I can) have learned to play together through basketball and though we have much progress to make in this regard, it is a start, and in basketball, as I have suggested, we have a never ending process and progress going on in the right direction. And unlike so many of our attempted solutions in this direction, both sides want to participate, because doing so is fun and costs neither side much they cannot substitute for another way.
(Note: for every white kid that cannot jump, slide, or shoot, there is skateboarding, or myriad other options. And never forget that for every black kid that can jump, slide and shoot, there are many more that cannot and so have to substitute other sports, also. One reason economic equality is imperative is so that many humane, civilizing can be viable alternatives to basketball. The key IMHO is for our culture to recognize and study the great benefits of basketball; i.e., team sports aimed at non-contact competition, and invent more of these games for our children, not just stand pat with basketball and baseball. Naismith’s game points the way to more sports that therapeutically improve our culture without us even feeling we are trying to achieve such an end. It is the beauty of games that they can do this.)
I will return the Soap Box, now.