We all know that the lockout is affecting workers...bars...the everyman. Much has been said on the topic about how this goes beyond just fans wanting to see the games. I really want to highlight our youth. We were all there once. And as a fan...a young fan...almost nothing beats interacting with the players on your team, taking pride in your city/town, and most importantly rooting your team on to a win! That would be enough...but trust me...it goes way deeper than that.
Dave asked us to contribute to his collective post...I just wanted to remind them (us) that few things matter more than making a difference in the life of a child. The NBA has a tremendous history of doing so. Why stop that...even temporarily...over money?
Take this story as evidence: Previously, I was the director of an after school program focused on technology. We were three blocks from a high school with a dismal academic record. Our most successful approach in building relationships and getting kids to commit to the discipline of learning new things was centered around video games...primarily NBA Live (and yes...I know 2K is better...now).
Often on friday nights we would have a mock draft. Tons of kids would come, looking for the opportunity to draft their favorite players...and build a dynasty. Kids came to the table with varied knowledge about the game...but the one thing they all had was passion. You couldn't tell these kids nothing. Their arguments were priceless (All true stories):
They call Kobe Bryant Black Mamba because black mamba is a killer snake that when it bites you your ankles break.
Michael Jordan was the greatest of all time...not because he was cold on the court...but because he had the best shoes.
Allen Iverson wasn't going to be any good this year because my cousin who lives in Philly said he heard that AI cut his braids...and my momma said his hair was the source of his powers.
We would do these draft nights, play games, celebrate successes...and talk trash about our opponents defeat. We (myself included) had a ball. Then conversations would turn towards the mathematics behind the rating system...and which role players would best compliment which stars. We showed the kids how to build a website for their fantasy team...and why some images look horrible if you copy them off the web. We designed new names and new logos for our favorite teams...and laughed when one participant suggested the new name for the Lakers should be the Los Angeles Pretty Boys. (When I asked him why...he said they are always strutting in front of the camera at the movie release parties.)
One young man learned he really loved to draw. Another discovered a passion for music. Another found out he really didn't suck at math as he thought he did. All these interactions are priceless...but they often began with the question to a young person..."Who's your favorite NBA player?"
I built a very successful afterschool program built around passion for the NBA. Of our core group of kids, they are all in college today. Can we take all the credit...no. But we helped...and that's the point. Our budget didn't allow for video games...snacks...trips to the Blazers game. These kinds of things myself and other staff members would pay for out of our own pocket...WHY? Because while making money is necessary in this world...some times sacrificing is important too.
I would ask the owners & the players to think about making sacrifices so that our youth can experience the greatest sports league in the world (as far as I'm concerned). They might not consider it a great loss to sacrifice a season because, for most of them, they may never see the impact the NBA has down in the trenches across this country.
But I do.
Need more evidence: