In 2017 the concept of basketball moms rivaling soccer moms and hockey moms started to creep into popular culture. That is when Lifetime TV introduced a docuseries based in Chicago called Bringing Up Ballers. The show made some waves, got some critical acclaim, and got its viewing audience to either relate to or empathize with the challenges inherent in being a busy successful woman who is balancing their life to focus on their basketball kids.
Basketball Fans vs Soccer Fans
It is television, so it shows the best of the talented kids with their very “together” moms. The truth is, though, that balancing motherhood, a full time career or business, and a kid’s promising basketball career that could be the key to his or her future, is tough. It is interesting that basketball moms don’t carry the same reputation as soccer moms - well crazy soccer moms anyhow. Soccer moms get a bad rap for their intensity and competitiveness. There are memes about them and jokes galore, including a really funny listicle You Might Have A Soccer Mom If... The truth is that these women are powerful and deeply committed to the success of their children. They may be the coach’s horror and the other parents’ disdain, but their intensity really should be applauded because they are highly involved and all youth sports are better off with deep parental involvement. Maybe just not that exact type of involvement.
The truth is that basketball is just as intense as soccer is for the kids that play it. It is just as glorified, maybe even more so in the United States, the kids work just as hard, and there are even more opportunities for high profile success. As made clear on TV, basketball moms have just as many things to keep track of: equipment, athletic shoes, uniforms, practices and games. Unlike soccer, however, these moms do not tend to be thought of as crazy even when they are intensely involved with their kids and very engaged with the coaches. This may be for the better, as it helps to elevate the status of basketball mom to superwoman.
Stay Sane and Healthy Playing Basketball
Recently the NBA partnered with USA Basketball to develop guidelines that they hope will keep the sport fun, safe, competitive and age appropriate. Basketball moms that read and understand these guidelines and put their children on teams that follow them will have less reason to stress, leaving them with more positive energy to devote to their kids and themselves which will come out in a more positive way toward the coach and the rest of the team. The guidelines address the fact that “overscheduling of competitive events, overuse injuries and burnout” have become incredibly common. The guidelines include tables that outline participation and rest criteria by age. Those same criteria recommend that kids do not specialize in basketball only until they are at least 14 years old, as there is evidence that playing multiple sports is physiologically and psychologically healthy:
Current research does not support the view that early single-sport specialization is either necessary or sufficient to produce elite performance at advanced levels of competition. In fact, early single-sport specialization in basketball and other team sports may be detrimental to long-term elite performance.
Athletes that reach the highest level of achievement have been shown to be more likely to have played multiple sports at a young age compared to athletes that reach relatively lower levels of achievement. With respect to basketball and other similar ball sports, world-class athletes often delayed single-sport specialization until age 16 or later.
Super Women Basketball Moms
So how does this bode for the superwoman basketball mom? Well, to some extent it depends on the kid or kids in the family that are playing ball. One of the most amazing basketball moms in the country is Maura MacDonald, who was written about in USA Today. Because she has 4 basketball playing sons and a husband who is a college basketball coach, she balances her schedule around 136 games a year! She is probably the most extreme example anyone is going to identify, someone whose entire life revolves around her sons’ and husband’s schedule. For most women, however, this level of commitment is not necessary. There is intensity and commitment necessary, but it doesn’t have to completely consume your life.
“One thing they’ll get from us is they’ll become inspired. Some moms think that they can’t get involved. You can still balance it all. You can balance your kids, all their engagements as well as being successful. It’s really about if you choose to do it.” Says Nikki, co-star of Bringing Up Ballers. We tend to agree. Basketball is a game and it should be enjoyed by everyone who is involved in its play.
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