Monday, July 20, 2009

Is streetball dead?

"Streetball as a big business is dead. SLAM happily rode shotgun during its rise, taking in Mixtape Tour games from coast to coast and publishing a special Streetball issue five straight summers. But the popularity continued to wane, and now its come to this." - SLAM Magazine, Issue #131

To put the above excerpt into context, "this" refers to an email message SLAM received from And 1 about its corporate decision to indefinitely suspend the And 1 Mixtape Tour in lieu of focusing on philanthropic inititaves.

Honorable? Yes. Implicative? I think so.

There's no questioning the economy's restraining impacts on executing a multi-city streetball tour. However, you don't have to go far to notice that streetball's verve has worn off. This was inevitible. Packaging a pure and artful endeavor into a traveling sideshow was bound to overrun its already limited shelf life, and leave behind a dark cloud over the local run.

But clouds, too, shall pass. Much like the overall U.S. economy, streetball's appeal is cyclical in nature. We all knew the housing bubble was going to burst when the average Joe, with no money or collateral, was scoffing up and flipping investment properties. The same pattern existed in streetball. The day I heard a fifty-year-old white guy from the 'burbs - who never picked up a ball in his life - start spouting off streetball monikers like "Spyda," "Escalade," and "The Professor," I knew the end was near.

Don't start writing streetball's eulogy just yet. Corporate interests may have receded and the sport's secondary fan base may have tapered off, but don't you think that's a good thing? In my opinion, the essence of playground basketball resides in its purity and passion from the niche-based junkies and not from TV contracts or mixtapes.

Streetball is not dead. It's in a recession, predictably a drawn out one, and it was rooted by greed and self-interest.

Sound familiar?

Peter Robert Casey is a basketball scribe and social media playmaker. He hosts a basketball blog at http://www.PeterRobertCasey.com and his work has been featured on SLAMonline, ESPN The Magazine online, and Bouncemag.com. You can also connect with PRC on Twitter.

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