I Wanna Be Like Mike!

be-like-mikeBasketball may have seemed like a man’s sport until the founding of the WNBA in 1996. It seemed to be how men bonded and/or worked out their problems. It’s one of the three biggest sports to watch in American along with football and baseball. I grew up in Chicago during the era of Michael Jordan. It was amazing to watch his skill on the court but to also know where he ended is not where he started. It took hard work, practice and dedication to become that good.

Growing up I was encouraged to run track, play soccer, swim and any other number of sports, but never basketball. That’s probably because my parents realized I didn’t have the required coordination. I was, still am, quite clumsy. But what about other little girls across the country? Unless a girl is of a certain height or build she isn’t really encouraged to play basketball, not even as a past time. In fact, most young Black girls aren’t encouraged to play sports of any kind. Ultimately, this may be a factor contributing to the health epidemic Black women are facing today.

It’s never too late to start exercising or learning a sport. Today is always a great day to do something you’ve never done. There are benefits to playing basketball as a way to get in shape.

Basketball is a great calorie burn. In an hour of play, you can burn between 600-700 calories. While it’s not viewed as a very aerobic sport, the constant movement means a steady burn of calories. Be sure to fuel up properly before hand. Don’t starve yourself thinking you’ll get an extra calorie burn. You need calories to burn calories. Otherwise your body can be switched into calorie-saving mode because it perceives a threat to your future energy supply.

All of that running builds endurance. Cardiovascular and muscular endurance are necessary even if you aren’t planning to run a marathon anytime soon. Physical endurance also leads to mental endurance and an overall general increase in energy to get through your day. The cardiovascular system needs to be exercised in order to maintain its performance. Blood pumping quickly through the blood vessels “trains” them to move blood quickly from and back to the heart. The brain benefits from exercise as well.

Playing basketball helps with dexterity. Because of the quick movements, ball-handling and quick offense-to-defense switches it will improve your balance and coordination. Your brain is processing a lot of information at once while playing basketball. It will adapt as you play more and decision-making will come quicker and improve. This will have a positive impact off the court as well.

It’s great for strengthening and building muscles. You won’t get as large as a body-builder playing basketball but you will build strength, especially in your quadriceps and core. These muscle groups help to maintain balance, build endurance, and can increase speed and dexterity. Weight-bearing exercise can also help stave off osteoporosis.

Great for bonding and teamwork. Team sports in general are great for bonding. This may be why men tend to excel faster at work than women who didn’t play team sports. Boys tend to be more socialized for playing sports at a young age, while, unfortunately, girls are socialized to compete with one another. When boys become working men they understand and adhere to hierarchy and office politics better because they had to on a team. This is a generalization, not all men played team sports, and not all women didn’t. But as more women who played team sports growing up enter the workforce, the impact of that team mentality is apparent as they become leaders. Playing basketball teaches someone how to be part of a team and it’s also good for building friendships.

Try something new today. You can take basketball lessons or ask a friend who plays. It’s never too late to try something new as long as that level of physical activity is okay with your physician. Stay limber and get the right equipment to avoid injury. Encourage someone in your community today by sharing this post.


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