The DadBall Era: Make Youth Basketball Sane Again!

Ruling from the court of appeals: 5-year-olds have no place in competitive basketball.

Chuck Pagano’s clichéd “24-Hour Rule” is in effect. We had exactly that much time to dwell on the wretched 2016 election before moving on with our lives. Some of us spent those hours agonizing over how America just projectile-Brexit’d all over ourselves and handed over the nuclear codes to a weird Batman villain. More of us, apparently, used the interlude to ride the wave of euphoria that comes with knowing that America will not suffer the indignity of having a lady-President who does emails bad. Frankly, I don’t care how you spent your recovery time—and you certainly don’t care how I spent mine. We are all exhausted and dismayed because of that ugly 18-month process and certainly worse off than before, our rigid worldviews only made more so. What’s the point in discussing who is wrong and who is more wrong? Our 24 hours are up; we must drown all political talk in a lake of fiery battery acid. It doesn’t matter now. Not here, at least.

Because here, we must come together. We must be the first to put aside our partisan bickering in order to unite behind a solidifying, common-sense #HotTake that I don’t hear anyone talking about:

It is wrong and stupid to have 5-year-olds playing in organized basketball leagues.

It did not used to be like this, of course. Back in the simpler times of our youth, we had to be 7 before we could play at First Baptist or the Y or Tabernacle, maybe 8. (“AND WE PLAYED BAREFOOT, IN THE SNOW, ATOP COURTS MADE OF JAGGED LAVA ROCKS.”) But at some point in the last 30 years, it became A Thing to encourage uncoordinated, uninterested 5-year-olds to play organized basketball. I’m here to tell you that this is the dumbest, most helicopter-parent-y, most garbage idea to emerge in that same 30-year timeframe  (a golden era of stupidity that includes the “butt-chugging” fad, the introduction of the Pontiac Aztek, and the Colts trading for Trent Richardson). And coaching them is even worse. Try scooping up puddles of mercury with a tennis racket to recreate the experience. Pointless AND impossible!

This is because 5-year-old kids are flaky as hell, in every way imaginable. Or at least mine is. Probably yours too. Oh sure, every team gets one hyper-focused, hyper-athletic G.I. Jonas who’s basically a 3’5” Allen Iverson—but never mind those freaks. They are the outliers who should be banished to the Netherworld (i.e., The Fieldhouse at 96th & I-69) to compete with other similarly-skilled phenoms. Normal, dopey little 5-year-old kids who aren’t professionally trained dribble-ninjas are better suited for a Poké Gym.

They don’t rebound. They don’t set screens. They don’t run plays. They don’t shoot the ball as much as they heave it in the general direction of the hoop. They can’t (and don’t!) dribble the ball. They never, ever pass to one another, which severely hampers my Princeton Offense coaching philosophy. The out-of-bounds lines are mere suggestions, as is every other rule of the game: traveling, double-dribble, 3 seconds, over-and-back, tackling an opponent because they wiped a booger on you. In fact, there are no rules. Well, there’s one: The defense isn’t allowed to steal the ball. (Seriously.) That’s how Communists play basketball, I bet.

Listen, it’s too late for me. I got roped into this mess against my will, a victim of husband-ly guilt. (“Everyone else is letting their kids play!”) I should have held my ground. Because the average, flighty 5-year-old does not belong anywhere near competitive basketball. Wait until they’re 7. Or 8. Or at the very least until they won’t wander out into the hallway during a game—with the ball, with the clock running—because they remembered seeing doughnuts being sold there once, like my son did.

Please, for the love of all that’s good and decent, let my testimony stand as a cautionary tale.

Make basketball sane again!

(I’m Coach Miller and I approve this message.)