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Youth basketball is much like youth soccer in that pretty much everyone played it. And when I say everyone, I actually do mean everyone.
The NARPS, the nerds, the freakshows, the spazes, and of course the athletes- they all played youth basketball. It’s an integral part of any youngsters extracurricular activity because as children we are encouraged to try everything. And while I did play a lot of indoor hoops, the majority of my years spent as a complete basketball novice were spent on outdoor hoops, either in driveways in Suburbia or on playgrounds at school.
At a friend’s house, one did not have to worry about missing a shot because of the hoop that they were playing on. Not to brag, but most of friends were fairly well to do and had hoops in the front of their driveway that rivaled the ones we shot on at school inside. Glass backboards, pristine nets, and sometimes even return nets, which were placed strategically under the hoop to more easily return the ball to a shooter. Goalrilla was a popular at-home brand, and if you had one of those you were bound to have a lot of people over at your house after school trying to imitate Hot Sauce (of AND1 mixtape fame).
Outdoors, we aren’t so lucky, and it’s for good reason. I understand why public parks utilize the double rim. It’s to protect the hoop long term, not only from the elements, but from anyone who happens to be on the court who is naturally gifted enough to dunk the ball. A double rim can sustain a hard jam easily, and in a storm, a double rim with a metal backboard can more than hold its own.
But no one ever talks about just how unnerving it is to shoot on a double rimmed hoop.
The sound reverberates off of a nearby park administration building. Near a water fountain, crust punks littered with tattoos stare at me blankly, wondering what it is I’m trying to accomplish out here.
Brick after brick after brick. If you’re not swishing a shot on a double rimmed hoop, it is not going in, my friend. You must absolutely, 100% cash your jumpers when playing at a public park and it’s not goddamn fair. I went out to the store and bought a basketball a few days ago specifically designed for outdoor use and I even got a five dollar pump that I thought was a tad overpriced.
Next, I walked over to a park – a short walk from my apartment – and dribbled my new basketball the whole way there. What ensued was thirty minutes of bricks, interspersed with a couple of lucky swishes and some fundamentally sound right-handed layups. I left the park that day feeling like a schlub with my new ball.
As a grown man, I can’t be expected to play on double rimmed hoops, and I don’t think it’s fair that America’s youth have to play on these monstrosities either. You think my psyche was shattered after a thirty minute shootaround at the park where heroin addicts and drunkards sleep the day away? Imagine how a ten year old must feel after watching
Kevin Durant dismantle the Houston Rockets Chris Paul dismantle the Warriors.
There aren’t very many things more fun for a ten year old kid to do than go shoot hoops after watching a professional basketball game. You imitate your favorite player’s moves and mannerisms and pretend you’ve got the ball with the game on the line. Double rimmed hoops aren’t helping anyones childhood fantasies, and I’d argue they’re doing the exact opposite.
I no longer have dreams of playing professional basketball (although I could one hundred percent beat Dillon in a game if he ever had the balls to play me), but there are plenty of kids out there who do who have to play on double rimmed hoops every single day. The parks around this country need to do better. Install regular rims that mimic the ones we play on indoors. Upkeep might be a little more expensive but can we really put a cost on instilling confidence in the children of this country, and more importantly me? Cut the check, America. I can’t play on these double rimmed hoops. It’s simply awful..
Image via Unsplash