Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Daddy Ball - Bad for Business......Or is it?

My oldest daughter recently tweeted something positive about me. I appreciate her appreciation of me. I was made aware of a sub tweet and searched to find it myself. Sure enough, a young lady replied to my daughter's comment about me, her father. The response said, "it must be nice". Reading that punched me in the gut. I immediately felt guilty. I felt angry that my child was "bragging" about having a father she respected when so many others do not. My response to send out a tweet to shout out all the powerful young women being raised by single mothers. Like them, I too know what it feels like to think that "it must be nice". Then the thoughts turned to thanks for a mother who instilled the importance of being a father. Note, I did say my MOTHER taught my brothers and I the importance of being a FATHER. What she tried to instill but was unable to thoroughly complete was the need for elite discipline needed to achieve elite results.

On an unofficial  visit with my oldest to a championship program years ago, the head coach made a profound statement. " My first teams were made up of kids mostly from single parents. Now, almost all my team are kids raised by two (involved)parents." This coach has won championships, plural. He/she chose to make this comment while we discussed the discipline needed to win on an elite and consistent level. Again his/her comment took me back.

Early 90's and I dreamed of playing for Tark, RIP. The game I fell in love with started with the 1986 UNLV Runnin Rebels. By the early 90's, Tark was the coach for Fresno State and his son was coaching against me at a California junior college. Tark's son had a guard that was nice, we called him Rob K, now known globally as Sik Wit It from And 1 fame. Rob K, like me, was getting a little interest from Fresno  State at that time. The battle was on! Coming out of high school, I got buckets. A senior year average of 30 points a game gave me a little rep as a scorer but my jumper was streaky (what takes more basketball discipline than a pure jumper!). Fast forward to a conference battle against Rob K's squad led by Tark's son, my true colors came to light. The obvious scout on me was to give me the jumper, which Tark's son screamed the first time I touched the rock. Splash! The second time I touched it, he screamed the same thing but louder. Have Some!! Two more times and two more loud pronouncements to back off of me and make me shoot it. Both times, two more bombs from 3. On the last make, I turned around and mouthed, " Get your old a** out here and guard me since I can't shoot ". Stupid BOY! No discipline. No true toughness. No chance at Fresno State!

I am told that Daddy ball is such a hot topic among women's college basketball coaches. A bunch of us fathers manipulating and living the game through our daughters. When UConn hoisted yet another championship a few weeks ago, I saw how "accurate" this depiction may be.

That championship game between Notre Dame and Connecticut featured some players that have ultra involved fathers. One father basically changed the landscape of club basketball in one of the most talent rich states by "forcing" mergers and indirectly helping shut down clubs that pinned their hopes on his daughter. A couple more kids have fathers that coached them in nationally respected clubs and or high schools. Another player's father is one of the largest club basketball event operators in the country. Another kid's mother was an assistant coach on her high school team and father is one of the most respected "consels" in club basketball in his area. This list goes on and on. Not just fathers, but involved parents helping produce some of the best players in the game. The down side is that many of the basketball daddies are DTM's. They Do Too Much. (Shout out C.H. for the acronym)

I already chronicled the ugly spots on a lot of the men that lead daughters and basketball organizations in the Ugly Blue Malibu blog. Like any other leader(s), they(we) are very flawed. They(we) have personal agendas and can be myopic when things concern their own interests. But, what about them and their contributions to children not of their progeny?

Tommy (Speedy) Greggs and Fonzell Martin run one of the best clubs in the State of Texas. From what I understand, the former rivals came together to form Austin Elite, a club that has helped close to 160 kids reach the next level.  Speedy and Fonzell have daughters that have gone on to play college ball at the D1 level. Over a 150 kids that are NOT related to them have used their club to help them  get on a college campus. While hearing so many college coaches bash daddy ball recently, I took a quick roll call of SOME of the prominent Texas clubs. DFW Elite, Cy-Fair Shock, SA Finest,  Texas Elite Christian, The Nation, Texas United, Houston Elite, AD Elite, UBAVE, SA Islanders, Urban Heroes and MP Elite were either founded, is coached or led by basketball daddies. Like Austin Elite, the overwhelming majority of the kids in these organizations are NOT kids related to the basketball daddies that run them.

(Side note: Coach Speedy's daughter, Amber is a club coach on the boys side! The former UTSA standout is skill set trainer and very respected basketball head)

Fab Five is a great documentary. Having hooped in that era, I absolutely love it. The Fab Five and their rebellious "me against the world" attitude had it poppin in the early nineties. The same brashness that led me to go at a college coach for what I perceived as heckling was that same ferocity the Fab Five possessed. Brashness, ferocity and rebellious are all adjectives for what I now consider as undisciplined. Hearing Jalen Rose say that he considered Grant Hill a "sell out" WAS an ignorant mentality. An undisciplined outlook on maturity.  I too recall the sentiment  that kids with involved daddies were soft. It was a mentality that applauded counterproductive behavior in a culture that had few involved fathers.  Watching Jalen Rose mature has been a beautiful thing. Seeing his efforts to give back to the poor children of Detroit by founding charter schools is terrific. Seeing him begin to behave like "sell out" Grant Hill is remarkable. He now values education and instilling a discipline that not only helps programs win championships but more importantly,  win in life.

Like a young Jalen Rose, the naysayers of basketball daddies may not see the forest for the trees. In a local example, of the 9 area SA Express News Super Teamers this year, all have very active basketball daddies(one has a daddy that is a high school football coach). When I think of local daddies Charlie Harper( 3 D1 Kids), John Roberson( 4 D1 Kids), Leonard Brown(3 D1 kids), Frank Mason (3 D1 kids) Wayne Simmons( 2 D1 kids), I can't help but to notice that besides on court success(all but one of the above mentioned have kids that played in state semifinals) all have raised good citizens and great people. Show me a culture that is hampered by a lack of discipline, a culture where social ills are prevalent  and I will show you a culture without strong fathers! Basketball daddies are DTM's, but surely that is better than DDS's, Don't Do S***. The above mention men also have something else in common, strong women.  As for mothers, strength is a synonym . Like in the case of my momma, the stronger gender is not debatable, at least in my opinion. But maybe that's why the discipline to be truly elite is so elusive to me. Ya BOY probably could have used a basketball daddy. Yeah, "it must be nice".