Basketball and Literacy

Let’s talk hoops!

I am a big basketball fan, but for some reason my slow, low-jumping, 5’11” body was not attractive to NBA General Managers, and alas, I was not selected in the 1992 (or any other) NBA draft, so my career ended in high school.  But that’s what is great about sports…anyone can be a fan of the game even if you aren’t highly skilled.

The college season recently wrapped up with March Madness crowning Louisville as king, and the NBA Playoffs are currently in full swing.  I thought this would be a great time to talk about a basketball-related event and contest we recently had here at Mackin, and about a great new basketball-themed title I love.

Recently, a group of us at Mackin gathered to watch a webcast featuring two giants of their respective fields:  James Patterson, author of numerous books for children and adults, and Dwyane Wade, star guard for the NBA’s Miami Heat.  Their common bond is that they are outspoken advocates for getting children to read, so that makes me an instant fan of them both.  The webcast featured their commentary about the importance of reading in their youth, as well as answering questions from students at Ponce de Leon Middle School in Florida.  Also featured were video clips from other NBA stars, encouraging kids to read.  Overall, the webcast is a great tool that shows academic and athletic role models coming together for a great cause.  An on-demand replay of the webcast is available for viewing at for anyone interested.  Also, the Mackin-sponsored contest where you can win autographed items from both Patterson and Wade is still open!  Enter the contest here, until May 31st.

Sticking with the hoops theme, a recent book by Twin Cities author John Coy has grabbed my attention.  It is Hoop Genius, and is a great way to introduce children to the history and origin of the game of basketball.  The title refers to Dr. James Naismith, inventor of basketball, and tells how he devised the game that has become a huge phenomenon today.  It turns out that he was a young P.E. teacher who was having trouble engaging a group of boys in games that weren’t boring or that didn’t result in rough play and injury, and came up with a game he called “Basket Ball” to achieve this.

Coy’s story is enhanced by Joe Morse’s illustrations, showing the dress of the late 1800s as well as the mustachioed young men that played the first-ever game of basketball.  A small photo at the end of the book shows that the illustrations are historically accurate…evidently sporting a bushy mustache was the height of fashion for young men of the era!  I was especially interested in the reprint of Dr. Naismith’s original rules of the game, which shows how the game has evolved in the 100-plus years since its inception.  It would make a great compare/contrast activity to do with students, especially those that are basketball fans or players.

I will leave you today with a quote from one of basketball’s all-time greats, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “I’m not comfortable being preachy, but more people need to start spending as much time in the library as they do on the basketball court.”

RyanBlogger: Ryan H.