One of the things I love most about sports is its expansiveness — how it can make an impact on people’s lives, even if they never set foot on a playing field.
As someone whose connection with basketball involves playing professionally, it’s exciting to me to see how others connect with the game in different ways. I had that opportunity earlier this fall when I sat on the judging panel for the 2018 NBA Hackathon, a competition where college- and graduate-level students build tools that could potentially solve specific problems in the NBA.
These kids weren’t athletes — they were students of statistics, analytics, programming, and engineering, all pairing their top technical skills with their passion for basketball, creating solutions that could benefit the game they love.
As the event unfolded, I realized it was the perfect example of sport’s wide reach, and it further solidified my belief that the landscape of athletics is vast enough for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite athlete or someone who simply has a passion for the game, there are so many avenues for people to be involved with sports in a meaningful way.
I’ve seen this personally in my job with the NBA, as well as with my colleagues. Not only did transitioning into a corporate position provide me an avenue to stay involved in basketball after retiring in 2014, but it’s been an avenue for my colleagues to be more deeply involved in the sport, too.
It amazes me that ninety-nine percent of my colleagues have never played professional basketball, yet they have just as much passion for the game and the organization that I have. They’re all so smart and can work anywhere they want, but they’re using their talents to help the NBA. It’s their way of engaging with the game.
That’s the beauty of sports. It brings people together — it motivates, and it inspires. It’s about so much more than what’s’ actually happening on the field.
That’s why it’s important to me to tell kids that their time in sports doesn’t have to have an expiration date. Sure, a day does come for every athlete — whether you’re in high school or playing at the elite level — when your athletic career ends. But instead of thinking your days with the game are over, you could instead look for other pathways that will allow you to use your talents, plus your insight and experiences, to keep connected with the sport you love.
So, if you have a passion for a sport and want to stay involved, keep your eyes open for opportunities. There just might be a creative way to keep yourself in the game.
I want to hear from you!
Please leave a comment below and let me know…
Have you found a creative way to stay involved with your favorite sport?