Sports As Businesses

Sports are businesses, profit-making enterprises. That contention is hardly a revelation. We all know that our favorite sport is a trade, a profession with players earning a salary, high-priced tickets to attend to watch best at play, in short, a business. Pick up the New York Times and take note that the sports pages appear in the business section. Baseball is a product. So are basketball and all the other sports. There is nothing new in this contention. It would be interesting to evaluate whether sport is more a business than a game. And what might be the relevant metrics of the criteria. The game itself, however played or presented by a community, is a product. The results of a ballgame and the details of negotiation with a team's superstar both receive an abundance of newsprint. The sports pages are replete with articles on money, salaries, length of contracts and the rest. Pick up the yellow pages of the telephone book. There are businessmen and women who market tennis courts, golf courses and bowling alleys. And Bankshot basketball - a rather new sport now growing in the good state of Illinois! Carol Stream, Huntley, Richmond, Hampshire register as among the latest communities providing Bankshot.

These observations on the business of sports are relevant in connection with Bankshot basketball particularly when information about this sport's growth, popularity and outreach to differently able participants are called to the attention of the media. It reflects of course, as well, on the professionalism of the guardians of the gate, that is the editors, who take upon themselves to make a self-contradictory and hurried distinction between, for example, conventional basketball and Bankshot basketball thinking one is a sport and the other is a product. Nothing could be further from the truth. They are both products. As are golf, minigolf, bowling, bocce, products/sports often mentioned on the same list along with Bankshot. And indeed the product Bankshot, and the sport Bankshot, belong with these others (except for bocce) as self competitive rather than opponent competitive sports, family-friendly, without aggression and without running, jumping, or defeating others. Self-competitive Bowling of the American variety qualifies as self competitive; bocce and bowls are of course opponent competitive and unlike American bowling good bocce and bowls participants play only among equals. Diversity is not a consideration or an objective at opponent based sports. Only golf, bowling and Bankshot qualify for alongside inclusive participation.

This article argues that, with the growth of Bankshot in Illinois, golf and bowling have a new colleague in providing alongside play rather than, as in other sports, play against others. At Bankshot, bowling and golf one takes on the challenge of the course not fellow players although certainly playing with others competitively is motivational and may affect one's nerves and competition, but the truth still stands that at golf, Bankshot and bowling participants play the challenge of the course. And there is no offense or defense and no one flourishes a golf club to hamper and opponent's swing. No one pounces at an opponent at bowling. The best can play alongside the worst at these sport and no one is excluded except by the cost of golf and bowling.

Bankshot was conceived to be a sport played self competitively so that the differently able, the mobility impaired, the autistic community can be afforded a drop-in, walk on, ballplaying sport thus far denied them. Wheelchair participants are not likely to wait for next at a basketball court but they can drop-in at once at Bankshot. With their families! The diversity experienced at a swimming pool corresponds with the diversity and inclusion at a Bankshot court that no other ball playing sport communities provide. Communities provide a full range of ballplaying defeat-others at games. Communities fail to provide self competitive, universal design diversity wherein a family with members who are atypical can be provided with walk-on participation without waiting for program next week which segregate, segment and fail to mainstream the differently able. Programs are clearly not the answer.

Drop-in walk on facilities like Bankshot initiate and bring about diversity and inclusion. There are very many aggressive ball playing sports which we all know, follow and often participate. There are too few drop-in, walk-on, ballplaying play venues for families with typical or atypical members. Children's playgrounds are attractive and serve a purpose but they are very soon outgrown. Been there done that captures what a playground is all about. Even the best of them are soon enough outgrown and no longer age appropriately.

Playfields, such as football, soccer, tennis, basketball and the rest, provide for a sliver of a population of more or less equal abilities and skill on the field at once. Playcourts, positioned logically and sociologically between the playgrounds and the playfields, are missing and clearly in need of much more attention for the sake of balance and inclusion. Bankshot sports provide a genuine start to achieve outreach to the underserved members of our community.

An article such as this calling attention to a new sport is often likely to be trashed by editors, justified with the notion that Bankshot is a business and a product and not a sport. As though all other sports are not businesses and products. The result is a turning away from a remedy to the marginalization and exclusion of significant members of the community in our parks. Being characterized as a product hardly justifies the failure to take into account the growth of a new sport in Illinois and elsewhere all over the country and abroad, one which addresses the play shortages and missing facilities for drop-in availability of the total mix of a population. For readers of this Illinois Park and recreation magazine were interested in new sports offering inclusion and diversity an outing to one of the communities mentioned above may prove to be a rewarding experience and one which the atypical and differently able members of the community will be the ultimate beneficiaries.

Dr. Reeve Brenner