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The NBA Playoffs are here. It’s kind of funny that my history kind of started out in the same place that basketball’s did too.
Basketball was originally created by James Naismith, a Presbyterian minister who taught P.E. at YMCA in Springfield, Massachusetts. He invented the new game to keep the young men occupied inside during the winter. Borrowing ideas from rugby and a game he used to play as a boy, “duck on the rock”, he thought of nailing up boxes to throw a ball into. He couldn’t find boxes so he used peach baskets instead. The rest of the rules he made up in about an hour.
His first rule was that the ball can be thrown in any direction with one or both hands. The second one was that the ball can be batted in any direction with one or both hands, but never with the fist. The third rule is that the player can’t run with the ball and must throw it from the spot where he catches it. The ball must be held in or between the hands and the arms or body must not be used for holding it. He also said no shouldering, holding, pushing, striking, or tripping an opponent.
Naismith defined a foul as striking the ball with the fist. And if one of the teams made three consecutive fouls, it’s a goal for the opponents. The eighth rule is that a goal shall be made when the ball is thrown or batted from the ground into the basket and stays there. When the ball goes out of bounds, it can be thrown into the field and played by the first person touching it. The umpire worked with the referee and his job was to judge and note fouls, so he could tell the referee when three consecutive fouls have been made. Another role the referee had was to judge the ball and decide when the play was in bounds, which side it belongs to, and keep time. Naismith decided that the game should have two 15-minute halves, with a five-minute rest between. And the last rule was that the side scoring the most goals in the time limit would be declared the winner.
The game caught on quickly because graduates of YMCA traveled widely and it was a simple game to play indoors during the cold winter. Naismith trained the first great college basketball coach, Forrest “Phog” Allen, who played for him at the University of Kansas and won 771 games as a coach himself. One of Allen’s star players was Wilt Chamberlain, who became one of professional basketball’s first superstars. At one game, he scored 100 points himself.
In 1898, the first professional basketball league was formed. Players earned $2.50 for home games and $1.25 for games on the road. Starting in 1994, Juwan Howard, a star player for the Washington Bullets (Wizards now), had competing offers of more than $100 million over seven seasons. Several of the National Basketball Association teams have foreign players, who return home to represent their native countries in the Olympic Games. The team of top American professional basketball players is called the Dream Team, representing the United States in recent Olympic Games. Becoming more popular internationally, Argentina won gold in basketball in 2004, the first time a Latin American country won the basketball honor.
I think it is really cool that the game started with KU basically, because that is where I’m from and I grew up in Kansas City. My dad is actually an alumni of KU, but he never played basketball with them. He loves playing pick-up games with me, and since he didn’t have any sons, I was the one he taught. I grew up playing basketball on club teams, but never at school.
Me playing basketball in 3rd grade, 2003
Playing basketball in 6th grade, 2007
And I actually always hated going to watch basketball games because I just wanted to be on the court myself playing. I remember going to a lot of Midamerica Nazarene University home games because many of the alumni went and brought their kids. It’s kind of funny that my history kind of started out in the same place that basketball’s did too.
At least, that's what I keep telling myself.
I met you when I was in middle school and I thought boys still had cooties. I wore flared jeans, Aeropostale shirts, and had the dorkiest braces ever. I cared about what other people thought of me, and I definitely cared a lot about what you thought, too. You were older, and your friends made fun of me when I talked to you. I pretended it didn’t bother me, but it did. I sat two rows in front of you in class, and constantly tried to think of reasons to talk to you. Your hair was a curly mess. It still is. You graduated from middle school a year before me, and I missed you. I don’t think you even knew my name.
I met you in high school when you were a really popular sophomore, and I was just trying to figure out how to open my new freshman locker. I didn’t like myself all too much at that point, but you made me like myself a little bit more. We danced at homecoming. Your friends still laughed. It was awkward for a while, but we’ve always been a little bit awkward. I liked the days when we walked home from school together, but I just liked you in general.
I met you behind my friend’s car when you became my first kiss. I said it was lame, but I didn’t really mean it. I had never held hands with anyone before.
I met you at the end of my driveway two months later when I told you it’d be better to just be friends. I guess I wasn’t ready for a relationship, but you were. I still remember feeling my heart in the pit of my stomach. We lost touch for a while, and it hurt. You graduated from high school, and left for college. I knew you’d change, but I was happy for you. The distance eventually healed the parts of our friendship that fell apart, and we were okay again.
I met you in college when we both had grown up a lot. I was a new person, and so were you. I cut my hair short, got some tattoos, and cared a lot less about what people thought. You started to dress differently, and became friends with people who stopped laughing. I liked you, but I kept it to myself. We’ve always been bad at communicating about important things, so I repressed it.
I met you the night I let my feelings pour out of me in a hallway that smelled like sweaty boys and alcohol. My guard was up, but I let it down because I trusted you. I don’t trust many people, and you know why. Repressed feelings turned into a kiss, and then a kiss turned into you saying, “It’s complicated, I told you it would be. I don't want to sacrifice our friendship.” So here we are, having the same difficult conversation we did years ago. You were hurt when I wasn’t ready, and now I understand why.
I keep meeting you at the wrong time.
Is the NBA losing to College basketball for some sports fans?
The annual ESPY award show put on by ESPN was created to reward athletes from around the world for their hard work, skill, determination and more. When Former NFL superstar quarterback Peyton Manning was hosting the ceremony, and in the opening of the show, he absolutely shredded NBA champion Kevin Durant’s move to the Golden State Warriors to create what many sports fans called a “super team.”
This term is one that applies mostly to basketball and originates from the Miami Heat of a few years ago who signed Lebron James and Chris Bosh to join Dwayne Wade and form the NBA’s super team. Durant remained unimpressed as Manning poked fun at him by complementing the United States Olympic gymnastics team who captured the hearts of America during the Rio Olympic games last summer.
Manning said “and our gymnastics team was so dominant, that Kevin Durant told me he wants to play for them next year... and I gotta tell you I don’t think you would start for that team Kevin.”
He went on to bring Durant’s former teammate in Oklahoma City, Russell Westbrook, to the joke. Westbrook showed clear disdain for Durant following his relocation to the California coast and games featuring the two stars often got chippy. Peyton was full of NBA rips throughout the night as he proceeded to hammer home the negativity and criticism of basketball.
Manning later stated, “Remember that tonight it doesn’t matter who wins or loses just like the NBA regular season.”
Many sports fans find it hard to watch the NBA. They often view it as a lot of fanfare for a product that does not really impress with “real” basketball. Many contend that college basketball is more entertaining because of the deep rivalries and the style of play. College basketball is more focused on defense and in March Madness, anyone can win. In the NBA, super teams and superstars are often the deciding factor before the game even starts. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has shown a free market approach to the league and has allowed many trades and signings in order to assemble super teams. Oklahoma City were one of the first examples of a super team after the Heat and now Golden State has taken over as the power of the league. They won all but one playoff game en route to the NBA title this season which was not a surprise to many. Just one year prior, Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit to beat Steph Curry and Golden State in the finals. The league has been dominated by Golden State from the West and Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. In the playoffs, both teams eased their way to the finals. The Warriors lost no games until the finals and Cleveland only lost once before they bowed out to Golden State in five games. What is exciting about a predictable league. Shouldn’t the commissioner try to even out the teams? Is he not responsible for encouraging fair play and increasing the competitiveness of the league?
By creating a super team and allowing the league to rally around it, the league alienates the fans of “less important” markets like the Milwaukee Bucks among many other NBA franchises. They cater to the bandwagon fans who are only interested in following a team who wins. The NBA obtains its revenue from bandwagon fans who buy tons of merchandise from their “favorite” team. Many contend that the NBA is really not producing the most entertaining product. The games are generally very high scoring and many players and teams could care less about defense. Basketball breaks the old cliche that defense wins championships. It is all about scoring and more scoring. The rules favor the offense and it is hard for teams to defend.
Basketball gets a ton of coverage on the news from ESPN and other sports news networks. ESPN also over-covers basketball. Every show, if you look at the time spent talking about each subject, the overwhelming majority of time is spent on basketball. NBA games are short and often do not even matter until the last four quarters. The sport is a lot of up and down scoring basket after basket. I want to enjoy basketball. But it is hard to stay interested in. The aspect of competition level is a huge detractor for me as well. How can anyone root for a team when the disparity in talent between two teams is overwhelming. The difference between the Golden State Warriors and the Philadelphia 76ers is vast. Games are exciting when they are competitive. The talk of super teams is a problem. ESPN has been covering a lot of rumors during the NBA offseason about stars like Paul George and Carmelo Anthony leaving their teams to go and join up with teams like the Houston Rockets to try and create a super team capable of toppling the Warriors in the Western Conference. How is that exciting as few teams get better and more teams get worse when they lose their stars?
The league makes a lot of money. They just signed a new TV contract and raised the salary cap a lot. This means that nearly every player is making a lot of money and many are getting overpaid because teams have to spend a certain amount of money per year. Even Richard Sherman from the Seattle Seahawks encouraged other football players to go on strike in order to make NBA level money. It is great that NBA players can make money but do some low level players deserve to be making ridiculous sums of money? Even if they barely play or are barely on the team?
The NBA needs to put a more competitive and exciting product on the court. They need to do more for the fans of small market teams and they could even expand the league to draw more interest from more sports fans. The insane amounts of money they make and the less exciting product they put on the court. College basketball, in my opinion takes the cake in producing a more exciting game. Nothing in the NBA garners as much interest as March Madness and they are way more predictable which is part of the NBA finals. The NBA is hard to watch and the league should check its priorities to try and create a more exciting and competitive league.
I used to be comfortable with religion, but now I'm uncomfortable.
I’m not one of those people who doesn’t believe in God because“if there was a God, why would He let such horrible things happen?” Saying that because sometimes bad things happen, there must be no benevolent higher power, to me, makes about as much sense as saying that because sometimes it gets dark, there must be no light.
I’m not even one of those people who doesn’t believe in God. I do; I don’t think science alone can explain everything. However, I also believe that science does not seek to disprove religion (nor does religion seek to disprove science). The two can work together in conjunction.
What I am is someone whose faith has been shaken. I am someone who looks at other people who have faith—who looks at how much faith I used to have—and wonders, what happened? Where has my faith gone?
I think the problem is, I believe in God, but I don’t really believe in religion.
Writing this, I recall a paper I wrote my sophomore year in high school. We had to write about someone who had impacted our life in some way, and I wrote about Rainbow, a homeless man I met while volunteering at Rescue Atlanta, a homeless shelter. Our church worship team left from our church early one Sunday morning to assist the shelter in their Sunday proceedings, which included riding the buses to pick up the homeless from around Atlanta, serving breakfast, handing out clothes and toiletries before they showered, sitting and talking with them while they waited to see a doctor, and lastly, worshipping. We were there for at least six hours, so we rotated jobs a lot. At one point, we just talked to the people. I don’t remember much about my conversation with Rainbow, but I remember two things distinctly: how easy it was for us to connect, despite our differences, and his parting words to me and some other worship team members. As he shook each of our hands, he said, “I’ll see you at the Great White throne.” I don’t know why, but his words have stuck with me through all these years.
I mention this anecdote because I think my problem is that, back when I was a sophomore in high school, I only knew the good side of religion, the sense of community it created. The fact of the matter is, I have thousands of anecdotes like this one. I didn’t know the bad side of religion because I didn’t have to—but things are different, now.
I used to be comfortable with religion, but now I’m uncomfortable. I’ve realized recently that it’s not my faith in God that has been shaken, but my faith in the institution of religion. I don’t have a problem with religion as a whole; I think it is important for people to gather in like-minded communities to share in worship. I have a problem when people use religion to oppress other people. I have a problem when people use religion as a justification for hatred, bigotry, and just plain ignorance.
What I know for sure is that I believe in kindness. I believe that, no matter who you are, or what you’ve done, you deserve to be treated with respect, and that you should offer that same courtesy to other people. And I believe in God, even when I don’t believe in religion.
An open discussion on how much we need an open discussion on mental health awareness
Odyssey recognizes that mental well-being is a huge component of physical wellness. Our mission this month is to bring about awareness & normality to conversations around mental health from our community. Let's recognize the common symptoms and encourage the help needed without judgement or prejudice. Life's a tough journey, we are here for you and want to hear from you.
The first article I wrote for the Odyssey was about one of my experiences with anxiety. It wasn't written as a cry for help, but rather in the hopes that someone else who hasn't opened up about their mental health issues could feel like there was someone they could relate to. Now, in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to open up more about why it’s of paramount importance that we address mental health awareness.
I can say from personal experience that it’s difficult to admit you have mental health issues, especially because of the stigma that surrounds them. Emotional distresses and illnesses are more often than not “treated” by being told to “suck it up” or “deal with it,” while physical health issues are treated with utmost seriousness. And unlike an antibiotic that can heal the stomach flu or a fever, there is no reliable cure-all for mental health issues.
I’ve often wondered why there exists such a gap between acknowledgment of physical health and mental health problems. I personally believe this can largely be attributed to how the latter is discussed across the media. We toss and turn over the irrational actions of mentally-ill psychopaths that star in the dramas and horror movies we watch. We blame the genocides committed by criminals in the news on their mentally-ill states. As a society, we have created in our minds this idea of some Joker-looking, eye-twitching, drug-overdosed monster that is the “mentally-ill.”
We are also taught to judge how much our mental health issues matter based on where we come from. I am guilty of trivializing my own mental health issues, and even denying that they exist because of how comfortable my life is. I have internalized the belief that someone who claims to have mental health issues while living a life with minimal tangible struggle is in reality, just being petty. This is completely false. However, to be brutally honest, even as I type that, I don’t believe it entirely. I try every day to teach myself that my issues are real and should be dealt with as so, but it has been engrained in my brain for far too long that they are not. And so, I’m not just writing this article to reach out to others, I’m also doing it to try to help myself.
I’m in no way proud of the fact that I have mental health issues. However, I believe that I must recognize and acknowledge them as an important first step to realizing I need to reach out and get help. We should all feel unafraid to address our mental health issues. In fact, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, around 61.5 million adults in the United States alone undergo a variety of mental illnesses. This is approximately 1 in 4 adults. Given the prevalence of mental health issues here in America, it should make sense that they are discussed more, or even at all. Instead, we oftentimes hide these issues behind chipper facades. Not everyone who has a mental health issue seems like the “type of person to have a mental health issue," and the statistics prove just that.
By writing this article, I don’t expect to solve the issues of stigma surrounding mental health issues. But mental health awareness is a topic that isn’t talked about enough, nor recognized largely enough as a topic worth discussing. As the proverb goes, the first step to solving a problem is acknowledging it exists. So I hope that this piece encourages people to do their own part in ridding the stigma. Mental health issues are real, and it’s about damn time we recognize that.
1. Brittany Morgan, National Writer's Society
2. Radhi, SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign