Basketball is getting popular among girls
While we’re focusing on females because of the Women’s Final four, this isn’t a great hoops state for males, either. Basketball simply isn’t a big deal here, says the guy born and raised in Indiana. Because it’s not a big deal here, many of our top male and female athletes who could be great basketball players pursue other sports. For the boys, that’s football and baseball. For the girls, that’s soccer and softball. The fact that the weather allows us to play those sports year-round helps, too and hurts basketball (which is a great sport to play inside when it’s 20 degrees out).
For once in my life, I concur with Matt Baker — it’s a climate issue. Our favorable year-round weather is conducive to excellence in softball, soccer, golf, tennis and several other endeavors. In the age of sports specialization, any of those sports can be played year-round. From a school-budget perspective, I can authoritatively say hoops isn’t prioritized on nearly the scale that it might be in other states. My younger daughter played two years of middle school basketball in Pasco County. The season began around Thanksgiving and ended before Christmas break. I think in Tennessee, that’s called the preseason.
Keep the stars homeA lack of youth development, certainly fostered by a dearth of quality programs, stands as an issue. However, it’s time for girls basketball — and other girls sports — to receive an infusion of attention and adulation. Too often, the female side of youth sports gets treated like solely as a Title IX requirement. How can we amp the athletic aspirations of girls if we don’t recognize those who have thrived. Organizers need to do more than check the box, and it can start with celebrating those who have succeeded at the game’s highest level. If we have kids who have never heard of Dominique Redding, Necole Tunsil, Sherisha Hills or Katrina Colleton, that’s a problem.