As a former professional basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers, I played for the money. I quit when it became a “job,” and no amount of money was going to make it fun for me again.
Instead of enjoying the sport I had played for more than 15 years, I likened pro basketball to “running around in your underwear throwing a ball at a hoop.” What did I contribute to society? Not even enjoyment for the 3,000 spectators who came to the arena to watch the lowly Cavaliers play in those days (1983). I was an entertainer, and the show was not a very good one.
Now a spectator, I have a new basketball perspective. Play was the original idea behind the game of basketball invented by John Naismith, a physical education teacher at a YMCA in Springfield, Mass. Naismith wanted to keep his students active — indoors or outdoors. Activity, not spectating, was the original purpose of basketball, or any sport for that matter. Inactivity has led to an obesity epidemic in America.
How do we begin to change this dynamic of TV spectating vs. participating in sports?
When watching a game on TV, consider this technique that I call “Active Game Watching.” Dedicate yourself to exercise along with your team.
For example, say Carlos Boozer of the Chicago Bulls sinks a basket. You then have to get up off the couch and clap five times, just as you would at the game. If Boozer averages 10 buckets a game with three free throws, that amounts to 13 stand-up, sit-downs. If you do the same with Taj Gibson, that’s another 12 stand-up, sit-downs.
If you follow the entire Bulls team, you will be exhausted by the end of the game. What a great cardio workout!
Corny? Yes. Fun? I say, try it and see. Maybe your kids can join you. This could become the next great exercise phenomena.
Wear your team jersey with pride, knowing that you burned some calories helping your team win or lose. After all, the point of sport is vigorous exercise and having some fun.
Bruce Flowers is marketing coordinator for the Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association. NEDSRA has its own wheelchair basketball team for youths with disabilities, the Jr. Bulls, that recently was invited for the first time in more than a decade to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association championship tournament in Kentucky.