Nov 21, 2011

Oh, How I've missed basketball

Clackamas Sophomore Andre Dickson (center, in white) looks to
score during practice on Nov. 21. Dickson had a game high four
steals in last week's season opener verses Linfield University JV.
After I finished classes today, I went to get some photos for one of my writers that was doing a preview of the CCC men's basketball season. I didn't think much of it. It was just a few photos of practice. Quick and easy, in and out.

When I got there, I realized that I'd be staying a lot longer than I planned.

I'd forgotten exactly how much I loved the sport of basketball. Lately I've gotten really in to volleyball and I've always been a soccer lover, but it wasn't until I stepped back on to the basketball court that I remembered how much I've missed it since the season ended so many months ago.

The next few minutes were lost to the squeak of sneakers, the pounding of the ball, the swish of the net and the click of the camera. It's more than easy to be absorbed in the action, it's practically intoxicating.

Then after a few minutes, I came down to earth. I realized that part of the reason I'd missed basketball so much was because there really is less of it now then there was a year ago. Last November, the Rose Garden would pack with 20,000 fans a few times a week to watch the Portland Trailblazers play. This November, the action on ESPN isn't on the court, it's IN court.

That might just be because the NBA isn't just basketball anymore. It's a business. And to be fair, it's a really good business. They attract millions of fans worldwide with their talent and the entertainment that it provides and rake in billions of dollars in ticket sales, TV deals and merchandise.

Clackamas freshman Jake Dewit (12) and Matt Bryant collide 
during practice on Nov. 21 in Randall Hall. Bryant had a 
double double in last week's game against Linfield JV with 12 
points and game high 14 rebounds. Dewit scored five points 
and drew the season's first charge.
For that very reason, many basketball fans shun the NBA, claiming that it's too flashy and has gotten away from the pure sport that it used to be. Most of those fans choose to follow the NCAA, where all the athletes (depending on how you see it) are amateurs. At that level, the athletes are still largely moldable and they depend  more on their coach to teach than do the pros.

However, even at the NCAA level, the game can still be muddled by money. You don't have to dig very far before you find a case of a recruiting scandal. The reason for those? Money. Better players means more success, translating to better attendance and increased revenue for the college that the team is affiliated with.

In order to escape that, you might have to go one level down, where money means even less. That's where small college basketball comes in to play. At Clackamas Community College, for example, the stands would seat only about 1000 people if completely full, which they never really are. And that's only if they open up each set of bleachers, something that only happens for graduation.

In a situation like that, the revenue for filling the stands wouldn't be a huge difference in the athletic department's budget. The benefit from having a successful team is simply that they win more. Winning calls the attention of prospective players, feeding the success of the program even further. That's as it should be. The sport is focused on the players, not the coaches, not the fans and certainly not on money. Just basketball.

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