Basketball: Basketball Parents What Are We Doing?

Sierra Canyon High School is based in Chatsworth, CA., and is one of the top private schools in the state of California. 

They also have one of the top high school basketball programs in the country. Currently, they have traveled to China on a 12-day basketball trip. 

This trip has been planned for a while, and it was arranged to give 7’3” exchange student Harold Yu a chance to play in front of his native countrymen in China. 

Yu is not the player garnering the most attention on this trip in his native homeland. Sierra Canyon is already the consensus number one team in the United States and many believe it might be the best high school team ever assembled. 

Now that can be seen as hyperbole, but what isn’t hyperbole is that Sierra Canyon is loaded with five-star and four-star talent. They also have the sons of two future NBA Hall OF Famers on their stacked roster. 

Brandon Boston, Zaire Williams, Amari Bailey are all five-star players. Terren Clark is a four-star player, and let us not forget Zaire Wade the son of Miami Heat legend and future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade. They also have incoming freshman Lebron James Jr. you might have heard of his dad. 

Sierra Canyon will play several games before returning to the states to get ready for the 2019-2020 campaign. As their schedule stands right now they will play 22 games. This does not include the state playoffs and potential national tournament at the end of the season. 

The Trailblazers could potentially play over 30 plus games, and that is coming off a summer where several of their top players participated in AAU, USA select camp, camps sponsored by shoe companies, and workouts with trainers. 

This would equate to several players on the team playing the same number of games that equals up to an 82 game NBA season. 

The fact these players could potentially play that many games in one year is absolutely absurd. This is a crucial time in a teenager life as their body is continuing to mature and develop. 

This time of their lives should be met with caution and smart decision making by the parents. It’s not surprising that injuries are rising at an alarming rate. 

That is why the question has to be asked parents what are you doing? 

A conversation has been sparked over recent years on whether playing this many games is having a long term effect on the players' bodies. Are all of these miles being put on these players at a young age leading to major injuries? 

The obvious answer is a resounding YES! Year after year we are witnessing young players suffer major injuries early on in their pro careers.

Just last season Michael Porter Jr. former number one high school prospect and rookie of the Denver Nuggets missed his entire rookie season, because of a back injury. An injury that would cause him to have back surgery. 

A total of seven players taken in lasts years draft missed significant time or the rest of the season due to injury. The year prior three rookies missed significant time or were shut down for the season due to injury. Two rookies from 2016 class have already missed entire seasons due to injury.

Ben Simmons missed his entire rookie season with a broken foot. Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray missed last season his third season in the league with a torn ACL. 

When you look at the percentages about 30% of the rookies missed time last season. If you go back 20 years ago only one rookie missed 50 games and that was Michael Dickerson. The percentage for that season is about 6%. That is an incredible jump in 20 years. 

So What Changed?

This is not rocket science ladies and gentleman. People on social media are arguing the pace of the game. Some are arguing the game is more athletic making it more demanding on the player's bodies.

Bottomline these players are playing too many games, and it is aging their basketball lives in dog years. So parents how did we arrive at this basketball crossroads?

If we press the rewind button and head back to the late 1990’s early 2000’s AAU started to gain traction as more and more tournaments and showcases popped up. 

The shoe companies have also stepped on the scene in a big way as well. Each major shoe brand has its own AAU sanctioned tournaments and showcases. 

NBA players have also become apart of the AAU circuit in a major way. Many of the players sponsor teams with the backing of the shoe company they are signed to. 

The major shoe brands investing heavily into AAU teams was both genius and calculated. With sneaker culture and shoe profits at an all-time high, it was a no brainer for them to get involved. 

Let’s do some simple math, let’s say if you are Nike and Under Armour and you invest six figures into an AAU team that produces LeBron James and Steph Curry, and they in turn sign with your brand for millions. 

And their signing has the potential to be worth hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, and in the case of LeBron, he personally inked a billion-dollar lifetime deal with Nike. Then it goes without saying as a shoe company investing in AAU basketball is a lucrative investment. 

With so much money on the line, you have parents training their children earlier and earlier. Children are getting involved in AAU earlier and earlier. It has turned into a year-round sport. 

Many of these young players come from poor social-economic backgrounds, and disadvantaged neighborhoods. 

For many parents the child becomes nothing more than a lottery ticket, and they are willing to throw caution to the wind in hopes of cashing in. 

As result of so much money being made you now have a high school team traveling to China to play exhibition games. 

Capitalism, the growth and profitability of the sport of basketball, has these young players playing too many games. If the parents do not wake up and start to see what’s going on, we are only going to see more injuries in the future. 

There is no love, consideration, compassion, in business and this system of capitalism. It is up to the individual in this case the parents to gather as much information, and make decisions that will benefit the long term health of your child. 

So I’ll ask you again parents what are we doing? Is money worth more than the long term health and well-being of your child?