Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Access, Economics, and Role Models

Jarome Iginla two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner  and captain of the NHL's Calgary Flames

Steve Nash two-time NBA  Most Valuable Player (MVP) and point guard for the NBA's Phoenix Suns

I was recently watching a National Basketball Association (NBA) game on TV with my son and during the game he looked at me and asked, "Daddy, how come most of the basketball players in the NBA look like you and most of the hockey players in the National Hockey League (NHL) look like mom?" I thought to myself, "This kid's observant. How am I going to answer this question?" I looked at Miles and said, "Son, it all comes down to access, economics, and role models." He just looked at me as I said this and then I said (For simplicity and brevity's sake, this was my explanation to Miles), "Let me explain. Miles, the majority of NHL players come from places where it is cold most of the year: Canada, the Northern U.S., Russia, former Soviet Republics, and Scandinavia. In these areas, there tend to be a lot of hockey rinks or because the weather in these areas is cold most of the year, people have access to frozen ponds and lakes. As a result, people in these areas get lots of ice time and lots of time to work on their skating and hockey skills. Also, many people from these areas tend to look more like mom.

Miles, as you know, hockey equipment is expensive! Just think of the hockey equipment you have and the money it costs. Hockey is an expensive sport for people of many colors and backgrounds. So is playing in hockey leagues. With basketball, minimal equipment is needed; a ball, some shoes, and a basketball hoop. Basketball can also be played in many more places in the world than hockey. Therefore, more people tend to have access to playing basketball than hockey.

Lastly, many people feel more comfortable playing or doing things where they see people who look like themselves, come from similar backgrounds, and/or share similar experiences. Sometimes people are afraid to try something new. Sometimes people don't want to try things where they don't see people who look like themselves. Or, if someone tries something new/different, people may not want them to do so and they may say or do things to make them want to stop. Fortunately, in a sport like hockey, more people who look like Daddy are playing the game and are in the NHL. Players like: Jarome Iginla(mentioned above), Stanley Cup Champion Dustin Byfuglien, P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens, and Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers others and hopefully many more in the future. And, with the NBA becoming more diverse and international, there are more players who share mom's skin color. Players such as NBA Champions Dirk Nowitzki with the Dallas Mavericks and Pau Gasol with the Los Angeles Lakers."

I shared with Miles why I admire the two people pictured at the top of this blog, Jarome Iginla and Steve Nash. Both Jarome Iginla and Steve Nash are very good at their respective sports, they do a lot of good things to help people outside of sports, and they are two people who excel at sports and in leagues where many of the people do not look like them.

After I explained all the above to Miles, he just looked at me and was very quiet. We continued watching the NBA game we were watching and Miles never let on to what he was what he was thinking.


Laura Trairatnobhas said...

Some random thoughts . . . Always random ;)
You explained it thoughtfully and thoroughly. Don't be surprised, though, if he asks you about it again. Kids seem to work through complex ideas like this gradually.
I seriously doubt that many NHL players are as pretty as Eleanor. :D
Gasol, Nowitzki and Nash are all from outside the US ~ strange, huh? I was reading a British article about Jeremy Lin, and the author noted that basketball was considered to be a Jewish sport back before WWII. I had no idea. When I was growing up it was very mixed, black and white ~ my idols were Wilt Chamberlain and Larry Bird. To Miles it's primarily a black sport. It's interesting how the demographics of a sport can change, isn't it?

Dick said...

I like your explanation. Miles is lucky to have such a thoughtful dad.