One of the great features of basketball is that is was invented in the United States. One of the great downfalls of basketball in the United States is that basketball was invented here.
Since 1891, American basketball has claimed superiority over the world. Recently though, the world has not only caught up but surpassed the United States in many aspects including recent US failures in World Competition.
So what happened?
The coaching profession has been taken very seriously by the European countries forever. Our commitment to coaching quality has matched or exceeded their efforts. Over time, as they continued to train athletes in skill specific ways, we began a deterioration of quality in our game.
How did this happen?
Several factors have contributed to the decline of the United States as a basketball power. None of these factors alone can be blamed for the fall, but are all guilty.
A. Changes in society result in changes in our approach to discipline, training and quality instruction.
B. Evolution of a skill development model mixed with team play gave way to team play as an end. The cart before the horse analogy fits here.
C. AAU as an entity has been an ally of basketball in our country for many year and will continue to be. Their contribution to our nation’s slide lies in the quality of coaching that has infiltrated the world of AAU basketball. AAU is not in charge of training basketball players, but providing a competitive national venue for team competition. Many are quick to blame AAU for the current ills of our game but are misguided in their finger pointing. Without a quality control element though, AAU has allowed coaches to be involved that are very ill-prepared and motivated in the spirit of the game and the maintenance of its quality. Until we demand quality through a certification process this downward spiral into mediocrity will continue.
D. Lack of consistent teaching of the game by all involved. I point to the goal of basketball camps in the 70’s and 80’s in comparison to the quality of camps these days. The commitment to teaching the game is night and day. How did this happen? is one question. The more important question is “What are we as a basketball nation going to do about it?”
E. The NBA has done its share of damage, most of it by omission. In an article I wrote, How Michael Jordan Killed the Game I point our how his game, as brilliant and awesome as it was, played a big hand in changing the way young people saw the game of basketball. Did fundamentals go out the window because of Michael Jordan? No. But it did provide the first opportunity for all of us to let our commitment to fundamentally-based basketball to be sacrificed. The game is not to blame though an analysis of the following makes you very suspicious; George Mikan to Pistol Pete to the NBA Slam Dunk contest to the “Drop the head and Drive” mentality to today’s era of obscene money and individual entitlement. Michael Jordan’s impact on the game is as positive as 10 is to 1. The injury that did result was the responsibility for all who love the game to stop and we failed.
F. Overall lack of taking responsibility as a society. This is more of societal issue, but when players were not longer required to raise their hand after fouling, the game reflected the absence of taking total responsibility for or actions.
These six factors contributed to the current status of the game. I believe that by allowing anyone to coach any team in the basketball we are shooting ourselves in the foot.
Accountants, doctors, athletic trainers, teachers, policemen, businessmen, nurses and sports officials are all subject to ongoing quality in their respective fields via the certification process. In light of the six factors above and our loss of world basketball dominance, how could anyone possible question a movement toward certification of basketball coaches at all levels?
The ball is in our court!