News Wire: April 2007

The Seattle Times reports on Family SportsLife Today's exhibition on June 16th at Hec-Ed

Coach Tom Newell says he thinks basketball, especially its highest levels, has devolved from the team game it was designed to be, with players spending too much time working one on one and focusing on dunks and other highlight-reel plays.

"That's not the way the game was invented," Newell said. "It was intended to be a template of how to work together and how to set screens and move without the ball and make the various passes that are necessary to make the plays successful."

Eleven-foot rims, Newell thinks, would eliminate the dunk and also require more teamwork to get the ball closer to the hoop.

 See the full story from the Seattle Times...

Family Sports Life Today is proud to announce today that it will stage an experimental exhibition basketball game at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on June 16 at 1 pm.

Former local basketball stars who played in the Pac 10, WCC, Big Sky and local colleges will compete in a game that will feature an 11-foot hoop in what event organizer Tom Newell, a former NBA and WNBA coach and longtime Northwest Native, calls "a science experiment.''

Coach Newell's interest in announcing this unique endeavor is for players, coaches, officials, fans and participants to observe just how a player would "adapt" to a basket that has been raised 12 inches.

His original inspiration was his father, legendary Coach Pete Newell, who in 1961 elevated the basket to 12 feet and held an exhibition on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, where he was the Athletics Director.

Newell believes the game has become stagnant at all levels with players dominating the ball for a "perfect" slam or individual play that draws attention and perhaps the notice of others who can help the player propel this athleticism into something bigger and better down the road.

So, he asked himself "what if..." and devised a game in which the basket will elevated another foot along with a few other tweaks such as eliminating dunk shots during the exhibition, having a 30-second shot clock, and allowing 3-point baskets only during the fourth quarter. There will be four 12-minute quarters and the rules for fouls will be similar to the professional game.

Newell also believes that basketball has evolved enough athletically that it's time to "experiment" with the height of the rim instead of doing things such as changing the dimensions of the ball, the textures and the seams in an attempt to improve the game.

While this may seem like a drastic alteration, he believes that it is no different than the changes football and baseball have made to adapt to the incredible physical skills of today's athletes.

Newell discusses some examples, such as the NFL moving goal posts and MLB moving fences in ballparks in the podcast episode "The NBA Game:  Time for a Change?" at www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com/ForLoveOfGame.  He discusses the experience Pete Newell had in his 1961 exhibition in a podcast episode at www.FamilySportsLifeToday.com/PeteNewell

Admission to the June 16 game is FREE, with Newell asking only that spectators bring a canned food item for donation to the Northwest Harvest Food Bank of Seattle.

Newell promises a "full" entertainment program for attending fans. Spectators, Coaches and others will be asked to participate as an Observer. If people are interested in participating as an Observer of this event, and providing your input on the evaluation of the shot selections, the Pick and Roll plays, Fast Breaks, Post Play and the Defensive alignments, they can register here.

There will be shooting contests for prizes provided by this event's title sponsor, The Legacy Group, a Bellevue-based Capital, Mortgage and Escrow company. Half court attempts for prizes will also be included in the timeout periods and halftime. There will be live entertainment as well.

The LA times reports on the impact of introducing concepts of competition too early for toddlers.

In the center of a field of fake grass, about a dozen 3- and 4-year-olds are attempting to learn soccer -- or a reasonable facsimile. Kicking and chasing after scaled-down balls, some charge ahead with glee, expertly guiding the balls with their feet. Others scoot along hesitantly, their faces masks of intensity.

"Score it in the goal! Score it in the goal!" the coach yells excitedly nearby. One boy nails the goal with a single kick, while another takes three to four attempts. A little girl in pigtails scoops up one ball with her arms and simply drops it into the net.

Such is organized sports for preschoolers. Parents may be crazy for it, but childhood development experts ... less so.

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But sports for 3- and 4-year-olds should be very different from sports for older kids.

Parents must make sure that the activities are developmentally appropriate and that the coach can teach a range of skill levels, because children don't progress equally, Branta says.

All 3-year-olds, she points out, can't kick a moving ball -- and having to throw and catch a ball could be frustrating for some. When teaching kids, an emphasis should be placed, she says, on the quality of movement: "How the skill is done, where is the body positioned, where does the foot land -- some understanding of form and technique."

Greg Payne, a professor of kinesiology at Cal State San Jose, adds that sports for 3- and 4-year-olds shouldn't include competition or pressure.