Steinmetz: What to do When Backyard Balling Goes Wrong?

September 23, 2010, 7:37 pm
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Sept. 23, 2010

Matt Steinmetz

OK, so here's the deal. I got a nice court in my backyard in Oakland.No, it's not a full half-court, but it's certainly good enough for aguy my age to get out there, take some shots, run to get your ownrebounds (out of the net, of course), and then take a couple dribblesout to 18- to 20-foot to take another shot.

You'd be surprised how you can work up a sweat doing that.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, there was a function on our block in which wemet some of the other families in the neighborhood. I told a few of theteen-agers and younger boys, if I was home, and they came and asked,they could come into my backyard to play some ball.

Sure enough, the guys - they're really kids, high school and younger -have been knocking on the door and asking to play quite a bit, and forthe most part I've said "Yes," when they've asked.

Only rule is they have to introduce themselves to me before they can play.

Anyway, on the first night two or three kids came over to play. Thenext time it's four or five and then next thing I know one night Icount seven.

So, two or three nights a week, chances are a few kids from theneighborhood are in my backyard playing ball. Like I said, no problemthere. Happy to have them.

Only, I'm starting to have a real problem with something that's goingon, and I don't know how to handle it. I thought, why not throw it outthere to the readers. So, here goes:

It's not the number of guys coming over. I kind of like that. It's thatevery time they come over, they lower the basket to seven-feet or so,and spend most of the time playing an awful game of one-on-one-on ordunking or taking shots they're never going to get in the game.

It's a breakaway rim so it can take dunking; I'm not sure at this continual rate, though.

Anyway, I come out one day after a couple of weeks, and give them myinner Gregg Popovich, saying: "Hey, you guys shouldn't be playing withthe basket this low. You need to be putting it at 10 feet, working onyour mid-range game and getting a feel for how to finish at a realbasket. You guys need to play on the real thing."

In fairness, two of the kids said they wanted to play with the bucketat 10 feet, but a couple of the older kids wanted it low. Anyway, thelarger point is these kids certainly aren't getting better, and I'mallowing it to happen.

Then again, it's not my responsibility to make them better. And they'renot showing much of an inclination to get better, quite frankly. Pointis, after I gave them my Popovich, I still consistently find the bucketat seven or eight feet.

What should I do? I want the kids to be playing basketball - just notbasketball like this. Should I tell them they can't play unless thehoop is at 10 feet? Should I tell them not to come over all together?

Should I tell them they can play on a seven-foot basket when one ofthem beats me in a game of H-O-R-S-E? Which would be never, by the way.

What you guys think?

What's your take? Email Matt and let him know.

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