For decades now, you would be hard pressed finding an American household that does not have a basketball hoop in their yard. Thousands of basketball courts are also spread out across the US and Canada, and these courts are in full use for the most part of every day.
So why the hype when it comes to basketball? Why is it such a popular sport, hobby and pastime preference? For many, basketball is a huge part of their lives. It’s not just a way to stay fit and hang with friends, it’s also a great way to blow off steam and gain focus.
Let’s explore this fun sport and see why it is considered one of the top 3 most popular sports in America.
Basketball’s Cultural Uniqueness
Developed in the late 19th century at the YMCA, basketball has soared in popularity in the US and other parts of North (and South) America. The sport has since become ‘part of the furniture’—so to speak—as it’s unusual to find a school or university that doesn’t have a basketball court that’s often used.
Although the sport of basketball has influenced other countries and continents to play the game, it is predominantly a US-based sport. Americans love the game of basketball because of its fast paced and challenging nature.
Those who take basketball seriously usually have extraordinarily strong personalities, and these personalities are challenged on the basketball court. The game has become a great way to settle arguments, match up against other strong characters, and fight out frustration in a healthy way.
Basketball is one of those sports that tests the spirit. Not only is it physically exerting, but it also requires great focus and dedication. Americans who play the sport relish an opportunity to ‘prove’ themselves on a basketball court, and of course the game is massively popular in schools, universities and within the NBA itself.
Traditional Western culture sports such as cricket, rugby, soccer and tennis may be more popular around the world, but they aren’t as physically challenging as basketball in terms of speed, accuracy and reflex.
The Social Aspect of Basketball
As one of those sports that promotes diligent teamwork, basketball has become a huge way for friends and family to socialize. Hundreds of Hollywood movies and television serials depict the importance of basketball in most family homes, showing the ever present basketball hoop in the backyard.
It’s the kind of sport that brings people together in a way that other American sports fail to do. That’s because in order to play a basketball game, all you need is a medium space, a basketball hoop and only two players or more.
Many friends and family connect over basketball, as it’s the one sport just about every child in the US learns to play from a young age. In professional games, teamwork is a dominant part of the game, as communication without talking is required for passing and scoring in basketball.
This communication requirement promotes a healthy teamwork culture among players who get to know each other on a different level due to their synchronized playing habits. Practicing basketball for long hours after school or work is a necessary requirement for anyone who wishes to play on a professional team, and the benefits of such practice sessions are highly social.
A Healthy Sport
There are loads of health benefits to playing basketball. It’s a hugely active sport, requiring lots of running, body movement, dodging and dribbling. Working up a good sweat takes a few minutes after the start of a good basketball game, not to mention the other incredible benefits players experience in their bodies.
Basketball is an endurance sport that develops the entire body’s muscular stamina. It’s a sport that challenges the limits of the body and pushes it past that limit to become stronger, tougher and more resilient.
Bone health is another health benefit to playing basketball. It is a contact sport as well as a movement sport, and strengthening muscles while playing will invariably strengthen the bone structures of players as well. Basketball players have shown more resilience to bone diseases and bone degeneration due to the high impact nature of the sport.
This study was conducted in 2018 and showed that playing basketball for just 3 months can have a positive effect on overall body fitness as well as the composition of the body in general.
Another notable health benefit to playing basketball is that it is incredibly healthy for your heart. The cardio requirements to running, twisting, jumping and moving have shown to all play a part in strengthening the heart and keeping arteries clear.
The Mental Benefits of Basketball
Basketball has also become a sort of meditation for those who need to calm their minds down. Ironically, the fast pace of the game is an excellent remedy for stress, anxiety and general worry. And even if the game isn’t played with others, shooting hoops can also be an effective way to boost focus and gain some thought perspective regarding any situation.
Training your brain in various ways is necessary for becoming just fairly good at basketball. There are several areas in which this should be done to become proficient at the sport:
Hand-eye-coordination and general body coordination are both benefitted by basketball. It’s a fast game that requires quick thinking and will develop your gross motor skills in terms of dribbling the ball, passing it to another player, or catching it from another player.
Because you’re constantly moving around and twisting yourself to dodge other players or block their shots, balance is key to becoming a proficient basketball player.
Focus Under Pressure
Scoring in basketball requires a player to shoot a ball into a small basket, and that requires loads of aim & focus. Training your mind to maintain this focus is one of the best mental benefits of basketball compared to other endurance sports.
It goes without saying that exercising to such a high degree as you would during a basketball game will inevitably release the stress hormone, Cortisone, from your body. This is a sport that resourcefully reduces stress.
Those who play basketball regularly will always exert confidence. It’s not about winning a game, it’s about challenging yourself and overcoming obstacles such as lethargy and fear; which will always result in a confidence boost for any player.
A Community Sport
Poorer areas in the US and Canada are well furnished with multiple basketball courts. These recreational basketball courts have served as healthy distractions for impoverished communities, and has had at least some influence in keeping young people out of gangs and prison.
Many a disagreement has been settled on the basketball court. Public courts are often ‘played for’ by two teams who want to use the court for the next several hours—a prize that goes to the winners of that game.
The game has also become a healthier alternative to drug use, gang activity and crime in poorer city centers where crime is problematic.
Basketball Players and their Influence
Some of the most famous basketball players of the past few decades have had a huge influence on American culture, advertising and basketball fans. Let’s look at some of these players and see how they have increased their fame in endorsement ways outside of basketball.
Michael Jordan is still well known as one of the most featured basketball players in commercials. He has earned millions endorsing products such as Gatorade, Wheaties and Nike products, but is probably best known for his Coca-Cola ads back in the nineties.
One of the best NBA players of all time is Kobe Bryant, who has also endorsed Nike sportswear. He is known as a funny guy, and companies have implemented Kobe’s humor in their ads. Kobe Bryant has featured in commercials for Adidas, Turkish Airlines and Sprite.
Magic Johnson has grabbed endorsement deals with both hands. Not only does he feature in several commercials, but he is also known for infomercial endorsement. Magic Johnson has done a lot of work for health insurance companies, and currently works as a commentator for the NBA.
These basketball players as well as others have played a large part in influencing American culture in ways that have lasted for decades after.
More Reasons to Play Basketball
There are other good motivations to take up basketball as a sport. The benefits of the sport add to the fun of the game, even though it is a highly interactive & fun sport just on its own. But here are some more reasons to play basketball if you don’t already.
Playing basketball is an excellent way to improve your balance and coordination. And no, we’re not talking about balancing a spinning basketball on your finger—although that is a trick worth learning by itself. But the game itself promotes balance in ways other sports do not. So, grab a basketball and get playing!
There is a lot of potential to make new friends on a strong level by joining a basketball team, or simply playing casual games in your neighborhood.
You have to think fast while playing a basketball game, which is why those who play often develop quick reflexes. These improved reflexes benefit the player in other sports such as boxing, football, martial arts and other contact sports.
If you’re good at basketball, there’s always an opportunity to gain a scholarship at a school or university. Imagine getting free education or simply being really good at this fun sport!
It’s Just Cool!
Playing basketball is popular for a reason. It’s fun, it’s cool and it brings people together. A highly recommended sport for anyone who wants to take life by the horns and live to the extreme!