Several years ago, I did a demonstration with our afternoon basketball campers on how to make a team. Without their knowledge of what was about to happen. I told one team of boys to stack it up like they would at the end of practice. Some were good and some were reluctant to get in the middle of the close knit huddle. After they sat down, I explained how such a small thing can make a difference on making a squad or getting cut. Then, I put a hula hoop on the floor and told all fourteen of our girl campers that they had five seconds to ALL be inside it. They did it. I hope the kids understood the illustration point, that more things matter than simply talent. This is from October 6, 2006.
In the late 1980's, Detroit Piston coach Chuck Daly devised a defensive strategy to limit the effectiveness of the Chicago Bulls' superstar, Michael Jordan. Considered by many the greatest basketball talent ever, Jordan demanded special attention from his opponents if they wanted any chance to outscore the Bulls. Daly's techniques, dubbed the Jordan Rules, included physical play and very specific responsibilities for each Detroit player, based on Jordan's position on the court. The tactic was credited widely for limiting Jordan offensively and for being instrumental in the Pistons winning back-to-back NBA titles. The term The Jordan Rules several years later was adopted as the title of a somewhat unflattering behind the scenes look at the Bulls and their most famous player. Now retired for the third and final time, Jordan remains an icon in both the basketball world and the business community, his name enduring as perhaps the most influential in sports.
Coaching middle school girls' basketball is like nothing else. This morning as part of our loosening up, we did the Hokey Pokey. We begin and end each morning practice with a prayer. The Pistons employed the Jordan Rules; I have installed the Hula Hoop Rules with my team. Over the years, I have noticed increasing numbers of young people who act disinterested when gathered as a team. This is manifested in keeping physical distance from the group when putting hands in a stack to pray and yell your team motto. (We use TOGETHER!) Bob Bender, former men's basketball coach at the University of Washington, had a solution. He had a three foot diameter circle painted on their locker room carpet and when the Huskies stacked it up, everyone had to be inside. One of our former Westbury Christian players, David Dixon, went on to play for UW. David is 6'10" and about 285 pounds. If he and young men who also tend to be much larger than average citizens can inhabit a space that size, a middle school girls' team can easily do the same. We put a Hula Hoop on the floor when we stack it up. I have made it abundantly clear that any young lady who will not get in the Hula Hoop with her teammates will no longer have teammates because she has chosen to remove herself. (We even have a player, Taraka, designated to be in charge of the Hula Hoop.) There are many Christians who could benefit from our Hula Hoop Rules. Sometimes, we want to keep each other at arms length rather that get in tight where we might actually have to deal with a fellow believer's issues. The scriptures are crammed with admonitions for disciples to get involved in the lives of their neighbors. Putting hands together in close proximity would be an excellent place to embark. It all goes back to our warm up for the day and the great spiritual truth from the Hokey Pokey: "You put your whole self in!
"Applicable quote of the day:
"In terms of intellectual content, the Hula Hoop made the Frisbee look like international championship chess."
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*picture is borrowed from wired.com