“Ball is life.” That is the phrase that so many kids and young basketball players throw around as a means of proving how committed they are to the sport that they have dedicated their lives to. It’s a good phrase in theory: all parents and coaches ever ask for is 100% commitment to the game, and if the kids consider basketball their life, this level of commitment is achieved. What the kids fail to recognize is how dangerous this phrase actually is. Ball is not life, and regarding it as such is a slippery slope leading to a life’s purpose missed.
When we set off on our journey of playing basketball as kids, we have the hopes and dreams of playing at the highest level possible. And why should we not dream that? The only way anything was ever accomplished in life was by dreaming big. So dream big; chase after it with everything in your heart. But in doing so, it is important to be able to recognize that sports can be used as a means to an end. Basketball is the means; life is the end.
Athletes are in a unique position in life in the sense that they are able to leave a mark on the lives of the people that they both encounter and inspire. Professional athletes and amateurs alike garner a fan base that often times looks up to these people as role models. From the Stephen Currys to the Kelsey Plums of the basketball world, while setting out to win championships is the goal between the lines, touching the lives of others is the purpose outside the lines.
Basketball is a team sport. The nature of it leads to interactions with people on the course of the journey. Playing a sport and winning is a great thing. Making a difference in the lives of the people that you encounter along the way is an even greater thing. Ball is not life; life is so much more than that.
By Annanya Raghavan
Annanya Raghavan is a student-athlete at Azusa Pacific University. Raghavan is from San Jose, Calif., and has played basketball for about 13 years. As she enters her final year of playing, Raghavan reflects on what she has learned along the way.