By Mano Watsa
Today I want to share something that’s been troubling me for the better part of the last year or so…
For better or worse…
I’m quite active on social media these days.
It helps me keep a pulse on the game of youth basketball.
And I have to admit, it’s a shame what I’ve been seeing lately.
The individuality portrayed by players from middle school to the pros.
Watching players lose the entire focus of the team game and any level of humility.
I’m sure you probably agree, it’s quite sad really…
And it hit me hardest back in March when I watched a clip of this guy dunking over somebody and while the player was on the ground, the guy stood over him, pointing at him and taunting him while his teammates joined in from the bench.
Shortly afterward, the ref gave him a T.
And this is what shocked me most…
The player was completely unphased by the technical foul.
He was so happy he dunked on his opponent that he didn’t even care about the fact that he just hurt his team.
In other words, he was so into himself in that moment, nothing else mattered.
And I think this scenario is becoming representative of the mindset that social media, ESPN, and many of (if not all of) the basketball media is spreading.
I can’t blame them.
It gets eyeballs, and these days, that’s all that seems to matter unfortunately.
Now, at the highest levels of the pro game, the self-glorification and individualistic mindset is somewhat acceptable.
Afterall, the NBA is built on individuals.
And the individuals (like Steph and Lebron) are entertainers.
So there has to be a certain level of showmanship to keep things entertaining for fans.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing this trickle-down and infiltrate the youth game at an alarming rate.
I’ve witnessed it with kids as young as 10 years old.
It’s especially rampant in AAU.
And I can only imagine what you’re watching take place on a daily basis.
And for many players, this misplaced focus is sucking a lot of the joy out of the game and causing them to walk away from it altogether.
It makes perfect sense when you consider the fact that research shows the easiest way to have a lousy, unfulfilling life is to focus on yourself. And vice versa, if you want to have a rewarding, fulfilling life, all you have to do is focus on others.
I think you probably agree that the game of basketball is a metaphor for life.
Nearly all the skills players learn are directly transferable to other aspects of life.
This is why in the year 2023, it’s more important than ever before for young athletes to shift their focus, mindset and approach to being less about themselves and more about the team.
Because if they don’t, the pattern of focusing only on themselves is likely to carry over into almost everything else they pursue in life.
— Mano Watsa is president of PGC Basketball, a worldwide leader in basketball camps and instruction. More than 110,000 players have attended a PGC camp in the past 30 years.
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
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Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon