Why basketball is a summer sport

12.13.18

By Eden Schultz | Staff Writer

Traditionally, all Winter Olympics sports are played exclusively on ice or in the snow. Hockey, figure skating and curling appear 24/7 on NBC during the Winter Olympics. The creation of basketball, in 1891 by YMCA instructor James W. Naismith, was for the purpose of playing a sport indoors when the weather was too cold. It’s remained this way ever since. So how come this traditional winter time activity is set to be played in the summer Olympics?

“To me it would make sense to have basketball be in the winter,” said senior captain Jennifer Berg.  “However, it could be that more people want to watch basketball in the Summer Olympics to get their basketball fix, since they normally watch it only during the winter months.”

One side of the discussion acknowledges that because the NBA competes in the winter, the season would have to be put on hold for professionals to compete, making the eight-month competition even longer. “I think they play it in the Summer Olympics because that is the NBA and many other leagues’ off-season,” said Wheaton Men’s Basketball senior Aston Francis. “Obviously, in the Olympics, we want to see the absolute best players in the world competing. In the winter, this wouldn’t be possible because virtually all of the best players would have to pass on the Olympics because of their obligation to their league team.”

There’s still an argument to be made for bringing basketball to the Winter Games. The Winter Olympics had only 15 sports in PyeongChang 2018, while the most recent Summer Olympics (Rio 2016) had 39 sports represented. With the Summer Games presenting more well-known sports, it’s a valid argument to say that there would be enough room for basketball to make the switch to the season it’s traditionally played in. The switch would also allow more countries to be represented in the Winter Olympics, leading to increased global investment in an otherwise rather exclusive event.
Though basketball has yet to appear in the Winter Olympics, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics will see the first appearance of three-on-three basketball. Seeing as winter is basketball season, be on the lookout for the Wheaton Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams. The women’s team has a game this coming Sunday at home at 5 p.m. against North Central, followed by the men’s team at 7 p.m.

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