Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Marybeth Ross Kanter wrote an article where she drew parallels between America's favorite sport (era-by-era) and American business practices.

Baseball was America's favorite sport from 1900-until-1960.  Out of a total roster of 18 players, one person would throw the ball.  Then one person would try to hit the ball.  Then the guy behind the plate would catch the ball.  Things would get deliriously exciting if the batter actually connected.  Two people would be moving at the same time, the batter would be running and somebody would be trying to catch it.  Business also processed at a stately pace.

Football ruled the roost from 1960-until-1980.  Make a plan.  Execute a plan.  Stop the play.  Evaluate the results.  Make another plant.  Execute the plan....Change out 22 people.  Punt.  Change out 22 people.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.  This mirrored American business practice.

Then basketball gained the limelight with Dr J, Magic Johnson and company.  Play was fluid, dynamic almost non-stop.  Plays were not executed so much as emerging opportunities were recognized and exploited.  American business is still trying to evolve to this plane.

At the prep level

These changes percolated down to the prep level.  The ball handling is 10 times more impressive than when I was in high school (1970s).  But many of those dazzling moves would have been whistled as "carrying the ball" or "traveling" back-in-the-day.

The three point line has also changed the game.  The basketball that I remember from the '70s was bump, bang, and grind until the highest percentage shot floated to the top.  You got yelled at if you popped off a low percentage, long distance shot....if you had rebounders in place you also had targets in high-percentage locations to pass to.

One must wonder how the game would change if fractional points were awarded based on distance from the basket.  We certainly have the technology to determine where the ball was launched from. 


I am an "industrial" guy to the very marrow of my bone.  I like processes with relatively few inputs, inputs that are explicit, results that are predictable and a wide band of "usable."

I like rebounding.

Rebounding is about the effort.  Rebounding is about anticipating the shift from "getting open" to "blocking out".  A hard working rebounder can beat a more physically gifted player 80% of the time.

Sustained effort ====> improved results is a valuable life-lesson.

I do not like three point shooting.  When you are hot you are hot.  When you are not, you are stone cold.  It is like buying lottery tickets.  A "good" team will be beaten by the "lucky" team every time they get into a three point shoot-out.

The floors of basketball courts float on rubber blocks.  There is a significant difference in "trampoline" effect of the floor in the space of even 6'.  The home team is tuned in (perhaps subconsciously) to the sweet spots.  The visiting team is rarely privy to that information.  That violates my "wide range of usability" requirement and my "explicit (i.e., clear) input" requirement.

"Luck" + Insider information  =======> a corrosive life-lesson

The Eaton Rapids Women's basketball team lost tonight's game.  They were sunk by early turn-overs and the other teams unworldly outside shooting.  Our players responded with crisper passing, more heads-up play, better penetration to the middle, and getting up in the shooter's face...but it was too little, too late.

None of these players will "go pro".  Very, very few will go to college on basketball scholarships.  In the long run, all they will gain from playing basketball are the relationships and the life-lessons.

I decided to pay Belladonna a dollar for every rebound and steal she gets.  The wise tactician  commits resources where lines are fluid and advances are possible.  It cost me $6 tonight.  I would love to have her soak me for $20.

I do not like three point shooting.


1 comment:

  1. Back in "the day" for me the gals were only allowed 3 successive dribbles, then they had to pass or shoot. It was dull for them then I think. Glad to see the changes to girls' sports. No female pole vaulting back then either. I date myself.


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