One of the best parts of my childhood was playing Chester Biddy Basketball where I didn’t score a single basket my first year and went on to be the best player in the league 4-years later. My mother would get mad every time dad would bring me home with another trophy because she just saw them as one more thing to dust while on display with dozens of others in the living room.
It’s hard to believe I started this journalism journey to only cover youth sports since it’s long been cut out of the daily newspaper. The thrill is gone for kids to play a game on Friday and see their names in the paper on Saturday.
Youth sports gives kids something to do, teaches teamwork and conflict resolution, and could be a kid’s first taste of success that they can refer to later in life when trying to reach new heights. Being in the newspaper always did wonders for my ego and self-esteem and I’m determined to bring it back one day for our kids.
I always try to stop by to see the latest version of Chester Biddy Basketball and today was my day. Over the years there are as many things that have changed as have stayed the same.
The gym hosting Biddy Basketball has changed several times. It’s a shame we don’t have a Chester Biddy Arena by now or even a comprehensive community sports complex like that magnificent one just built in Wilmington at the 76ers G-League site. The passionate parents are still the same with moms and dads on the sidelines cheering and men coaching and mentoring the kids.
Some of the things that has changed are the age groups where there isn’t more than a 2-year difference in players. I think it’s broken down with a 6-8 year old league; 9-10 and 11-13. In the old days you were on the same team for 4 or 5 years from the age 8 to 13. It seems crazy when I look back and wonder how an 8-year-old was supposed to compete with a 13-year-old, but it certainly taught players to wait their turn.
Another change is just how big and athletic the kids are compare to us old heads. I was the biggest guy in the league at 5’8” (sadly, just one inch below where I am now), but some of these kids today are huge. They are faster, stronger, and much more skilled than 95% of the guys I played with. The final big change is seeing girls on the teams today.
I enjoyed watching a couple games of the youngest players out there wheeling and dealing, dishing and swishing. It was reminiscent of the good old days of short shorts, Converse All Stars, high top wool sweat socks, and one less stripe on the court – the 3-point circle.