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Swish of the Basket: Why Basketball is Part of My Life

by Rebecca Ratero

July 10, 2012

When I began playing basketball eight years ago, I was 10 years old. I started as I might have started any other sport and enjoyed it about as much. I took dancing and swimming lessons; I liked to roller blade and I had ice-skated, too.

As the years passed, basketball slowly became bigger for me.

Then, one year, I had a coach in Spain, where I live, who got the blood into me. None of this nice-nice blandness. We were here to play basketball. We were here to fight. I was going to be tough and do things well because I could. We were going to run because we could. And I became more and more attached to the sheer feeling of playing.

Boom. Boom.
Up and down the ball goes.
Boom. Boom.
The speed. The swiftness. The quick moves, the shoves, the pushes, the elegant swish of a basket.
Boom. Boom.
The basketball pounding and my heart pounding in my chest.
Boom. Boom.
The fast dribble of the opponent as I keep myself light on my feet.
Boom. Boom.
The rush of adrenaline, the endorphins keeping me going. And going. And going.
Keeping the rush up, never failing to making me feelÖ Alive.

Basketball has become something I depend on -- the feeling of picking up a ball and measuring its firmness between my hands. Sure, Iím not WNBA bound, and Iíll spend a large chunk of summer without playing and live through it fine. But I also know that come September, Iíll be itching for that feeling, that rush of energy, that swiftness and the sweat and the griminess it brings.

Not all girls and young women get support from their family, their community or get lucky enough to get the feel for playing a sport and have the drive to keep playing. The older Iíve gotten, the fewer teams there have been -- to the point that itís hard to get people to replace those who drop out.

Many ex-teammates on previous teams have stopped playing basketball. Some of them say they donít have time with the increase in schoolwork and studying. Some of them donít feel like committing. Others feel out of place and sign up at gyms or for pilates classes. Iím sure some feel like it isnít ďfeminineĒ enough, but that feeling is never voiced. Unfortunately, it persists in society today, but since itís not supposed to be present, itís not whatís said.

And it doesnít only happen with basketball. Living in Spain, where soccer is the predominant sport, Iíve seen a similar discrediting of womenís soccer. I have a friend who is quite plainly a soccer nut, and got onto the junior team whose adult womenís soccer team is one of the best in all of Spain.

However good a womenís team is, it wonít get nearly as much funding, publicity or sponsors. The menís team playing on a lower level is fully equipped and never has any problems getting its complete uniforms and other needs met, while the womenís team is always in the shadows.

Unless youíre a dancer or a gymnast, traditionally more ladylike, thereíre very few options. In our society, womenís sports are still undermined, considered unfeminine and left to the side.

Still, I am not going to stop playing. I will keep fighting for that ball, that rebound. Itís not that I want to keep making that net swish elegantly; itís that I donít feel I can stop. And why should I want to, anyway?

Sports are a healthy activity. Sports offer exercise and discipline, and are enjoyable when taken the right way. Sports can teach us values, and team sports forge friendships and teamwork. And hey, playing is fun.

The boom. The dribble. The swish. The rush. The speed. The movement. The block. The action. Part of one game, part of my life. I hope the feeling of the game spreads in the future. I hope the differences are left behind. Girls need to start, not quit.

(Image: Amador Valley Varsity Girls' Basketball team plays against rival team Foothill High School.  Photo: John Kay, Wikimedia Commons)

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Rebecca Ratero lives in Spain and will be going to college in the U.S. starting fall 2012.

Also see  "Girls, Women, Sports: What to ReadĒ by Chanť Jones and The Feminist Press in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.

See ĒUltimate Frisbee: Women Need A League of Their OwnĒ by Sarah Schoenfeldt in this edition of On The Issues Magazine.


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