The Economic Philosophy of Basketball: What’s more important? Letting everyone play or winning? Capitalism encourages competition and promotes the good of the individual over the good of the whole. Socialism values the good of the whole over the good of the individual. But often what’s best for the whole and the individual are the same.
Sportsmanship: Last November Ava wanted to play basketball, but Sno-King Sports had no coach. I put my name in, and Grace’s friend’s dad (coach Hollow) also volunteered. Ava and others had never played and lacked Basketball IQ. No surprise. Thus three goals: 1) fun 2) learn the game 3) sportsmanship. Winning did not seem as important. We first battled the Purple Flames, went down 14-2 at half (See Female Superiority, Girls Basketball Style) on the way to a loss. We then beat the hapless Fireworks, and preceded to get clobbered, 29-6, by the Killers.
Hornets 10-24 Purple Flames Loss
Hornets 22-10 Fireworks Win
Hornets 6-29 Killers 29 Loss
Hornets 26-10 Purple Flames Win
Hornets 22-8 Fireworks Win
Hornets 17-15 Killers Win
Hornets 24-10 Purple Flames Win
Hornets 16-9 Fireworks Win
Hornets 20-18 Purple Flames Win
Hornets 20-25 Killers Loss
Final: 7-3 2nd Place
Coach Marx: How can every girl have equal fun? Sitting on the bench is not fun. Neither is losing.
“From each according to her ability, to each according to her need.” – Karl Marx: The rules state every girl must play one full quarter and sit one full quarter. To play the stronger girls three quarters and weaker girls one would increase chances of winning. But this Catch-22 would hurt the weaker girls, who need playing time to improve. In the same vein, girls with poor ball handling skills need to handle the ball to improve.
Coach Smith: Losing to the Killers, down 22-2 going into the fourth quarter, was not so fun. The Killers had not lost in three years, and their girls had mostly played together. On our team, we had a few “walking turnovers,” and went long stretches without a shot. This had to change. As fun as socialism might be, it was no fun losing 29-6, especially when our girls could compete. The good of the whole had been compromised.
“No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” – Adam Smith: Letting everyone play and handle the ball equally led to the suffering of the team. No more Mr. Nice Coach. Coach Hollow and I changed tactics. All girls had great attitudes, but some had more aggressiveness and skills. They would get more responsibility. We beat the Purple Hornets, beat the Fireworks, and every girl played at least two quarters, a happy marriage of capitalism and socialism.
Then we played the Killers. Team defense and stronger girls handling and shooting the ball gave us a chance to win in the fourth quarter. With three minutes to go in a close game, though, for the first time, we substituted girls who had not played two complete quarters. And we won, 17-15.
Socialism for practice. Capitalism for the game: We continued our philosophy, adding winning as a goal. If you try your best and lose, this cannot be helped, and you can still learn. But losing without maximum effort is neither fun nor productive. In practice all girls got equal attention, not only that, but the weaker girls got extra attention.
The Championship: In the final game the Killers did not underestimate us, and won, 25-20. But our girls did their best. The lessons: Sports combines fairness, competition, and character; looking out for teammates, effort, improvement, and trying to win. Socialism and capitalism do not have to be at antipodes, for the good of the whole and the individual combines sharing and competition.
Sister/Aunt Min Cousins/Nephews/Niece arrive for a week before returning to Hawaii: