I Want To Start My Own Professional Basketball League

This idea has been rolling around in my mind for a while now and I figured I better write it down before it disappears into the chasms of my mind.  The American mind spends an inordinate amount of time thinking about sports much to the detriment of much more important topics that are far more pertinent to our lives.  That said, professional sports have also been a positive impetus for social change.  Jackie Robinson is a great example of this.  Michael Sam, though he’s not on an NFL team yet, has also brought the echoes of change that will likely lead to the avalanche of openly gay men playing professional football.

I have many issues with professional sports, but the one that has always made no sense to me was that they were divided by gender.  I have no issues with the fact that there is a men’s league and a women’s league, but I do have issue with the fact that that is all we have.  The States are abound with coed recreational leagues so why not professional?  But to me, that doesn’t go far enough because it perpetuates the belief that gender is binary.  What I would like to see is the GNBA: the Gender Neutral Basketball Association.

The rules of the GNBA will follow most of the rules of any professional basketball association with one main difference: everybody is eligible.  Of course, that’s not enough as it would likely just turn into another men’s league so there will be two other rules.  First, the team that is on the court has to be gender neutral + 1.  Second, no individual player can be responsible for over 25% of the scored points.

Gender neutral + 1 probably needs a bit of an explanation.  There are five people on the basketball court at any given time.  Having one self-identifying male and one self-identifying female on the court makes the team gender neutral.  The +1 gives some wiggle room since it is a five person team.  So you can have 3 women and 2 men on the court or 2 trans women and 3 trans men or 1 man and 1 woman and 1 trans man and 1 trans woman and 1 bigender individual, etc.  Importantly, each individual would be self-identifying with no questions asked.  Also, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list of identities or combinations.  Gender identity is vast and complicated and I only have an 8th grade education in it.

No individual player being responsible for more than 25% of the points is an effort to curb the superstar effect that basketball seems to have.  It is there to emphasize team play over individual ego.  If an individual has over 25% of the points at the end of the game, points will be deducted from that individual’s total until they have 25% or fewer points.  This is a rule that I wish the NBA currently had.

Why did I choose basketball?  Practicality, mostly.  Both soccer and baseball would be well suited to a league of this nature too and I like both sports better, but they both require much larger spaces and more players.  Basketball courts are ubiquitous, scale well to attendance levels, and require less person-power.

The biggest obstacle to gender awareness right now is visibility.  We are brought up with a binary view of gender since birth.  This can cause huge emotional damage in those who do not fit that socially enforced binary.  Creating an all-inclusive basketball league will certainly not solve all our gender problems, but it’s a way to bring positive visibility to a portion of the population that remains too invisible to society.

15 thoughts on “I Want To Start My Own Professional Basketball League

  1. Steven Scott

    I like your idea, but I disagree about basketball. Maybe its because you aren’t much of a fan of it, but things like height play a MAJOR factor which unfortunately on the balance ladies are and will always be much shorter than dudes. Its the reason why many people have advocated for the lowering of the rims in the WNBA – more people would be able to slam dunk (which for whatever reason is more exciting than layups) and it would cause an increase in the low-post game.

    Anyway, I don’t see why you couldn’t do soccer or baseball. Soccer is popular around the world for the reason that all you need is a field and a ball (not because it is fun to watch #soccersucks). And the skill set is much closer in baseball. I think there are plenty of College softball players who could make it as a Major League pitcher if somebody would give one a chance.

    1. Jean-Paul Post author

      I would also ban slam dunks. I hate those. I know height is a factor, but you’re not going to have the tall person guarding the short person. Things would even out.

      You may be right about soccer and baseball, I’m not sure. How many places actually have built-in seating? I guess most colleges would have something close enough. Not having gone to a sports school, my view is tilted. We had the teams, but we weren’t anywhere near close to equipped to handle any sort of attendance except for basketball. I guess I assumed most other city area colleges are similar.

      1. Steven Scott

        I’m still confused to what your problem is with soccer/baseball? If you were to make it popular enough that you had to worry about fan seating, then you should be able to go out and find the facilities that aren’t being used somewhere in the greater Chicago area/other major cities. Every major sport started from nothing at some point, so why worry about how big your bleachers are at this point.

        1. Jean-Paul Post author

          “Professional” means being paid to play a sport usually at least partially by spectators who buy tickets/refreshments. The post was about a professional team, not a recreational team.

          1. Steven Scott

            Once again, every professional sport goes through this. The facilities are out there if you are willing to pay to rent them. Worry instead about making an entertaining product to get enough fans in the theoretical seats to make your money first.

          2. Jean-Paul Post author

            You’re making my point for me. Larger facilities, which by definition of the sport baseball and soccer fields have to be, would cost more and would require more personnel and are thus more likely to fail.

          3. Steven Scott

            I actually think it would be the opposite. Soccer and Baseball fields are much easier to maintain since they aren’t in a building and will have a lower overhead.

  2. Steven Scott

    Another thing, your 25% idea for basketball is terrible. Modern rules and evolving strategies have all but eliminated the kind of boring ball-hoggery which your rule would purport to solve. Now its all ball movement, pick-n-roll, pick-n-pop, 3-point shooters in the corners as guards slash to the hoop. Meanwhile, the end of close games would be somewhere between boring and confusing. “Kevin Durant just hit a 3 to tie the game at 110 to 110! But wait, he now has 28 points, so is it really tied? Now the Thunder are calling a time-out to get some guy off of the bench because everybody knows Durant can’t score anymore points until the Thunder score another 4 points.” Forgive me, but I don’t think people watch basketball so that the best players in the world sit on the bench while coaches and announcers do math over and over again to see if they can come in again.

    The real superstar effect is in how the game is called by the officials (breathe on a star, get called for a foul. He can rake you across the arms, take the ball and then run 3 steps before dribbling though. And if you are a rookie, its a foul if you move while defending anybody)

    1. Jean-Paul Post author

      Here are the top 10 highest percent of points scored. The lowest in the top 10 is 29.9%. So at least 33% of the NBA teams have scorers who account for over 25% of the team’s points.


      I get your modern rules, blah, blah, blah, but it’s still a huge problem.

      The solution to your hypothetical is simple. Don’t give Durant the ball. Or if you do, suffer the consequences. Plus, it’s only the final score that the 25% applies to. Let Durant go on his hot streak, but you best let others catch up before the final buzzer. It brings more strategy towards putting your team together.

  3. Steven Scott

    Seriously, YOU shouldn’t be starting a basketball league since you don’t appear like basketball.

    I mean, I get looking at Kobe’s 80 point game and thinking that is wrong or watching the end of Cav’s games when Lebron first came into the league when they use to run the “Everybody stand on the sidelines and watch Lebron either drive to the hoop and get fouled, or score a layup.”

    I’d understand that.

    But to arbitrarily decide that anything over 25% is too much; that to say that you are bored watching a player score 30 points in the flow of an offense in which the ball gets passed around 3-4 times and players move about on screens and double screens; That a family of four paying $400 to watch Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippin was somehow disappointed that Dickey Simpkins didn’t see the ball more; That somehow Dunks are bad and should be banned….

    You sir, you do not like Basketball.

    1. Jean-Paul Post author

      Why do you keep trying to plug in my rules for my league into the NBA? I’m not trying to change the NBA. I’m trying to modify the rules to best fit the paradigm I created. Plus, all sports rules are arbitrary to some extent. Dunking was banned in the NCAA (may it die a horrible death) for many years. Rules in all sports evolve. Maybe it’s a game you don’t want to watch, but you’re dismissing it without ever having witnessed it because you appear to want to be the arbiter of what True Basketball is.

      1. Steven Scott

        Fair enough, but in my defense you are the one who kept using NBA stats to establish your ‘superstar’ paradigm instead of insisting on its prevalence in the rec leagues and so forth. You also just defended using your rules in the NBA above instead of establishing that this was just for your league and not some problem you think all of basketball has.

        Even in your league, the 25% rule would still result in a lot more thinking about math in the waning seconds of a game that would bog it down. Why not use some other rules, like a maximum amount of minutes a player can play in a regulation game. Or make it so that a basket only counts when the ball is touched by both genders during a sequence, thus ensuring that the ball gets passed around?

        1. Jean-Paul Post author

          How is thinking about math in the waning seconds of the game any more different than what goes on in professional sports now? Hell, players are routinely formulized into equations much more difficult than x/4. Sabremetrics does just that for baseball and it’s been unusually successful. You give the ball to a certain person in the clutch because he’s proven he has a better clutch percentage, etc.

          1. Steven Scott

            1. Most of the math you describe is done ahead of time or after a game, not while it is going on.

            2. Baseball is a hell of a lot slower than basketball. When you have that much dead time between spurts of action, it is much easier to both do calculations and utilize them to change the odds in your favor.

            3. I love Sabre-metrics, in both baseball and basketball. The thing is, Sabre-metrics (in laymen terms) is the study of what is most likely to happen. What you are proposing however is a use of numbers to limit what can and can’t happen.

            I can know that somebody has a 34% chance of chasing a curveball in the dirt on a 1-2 count, or that a point guard is statistically the worst defender in the league despite all of his apparent offense…but they still have the opportunity to beat the odds. Whats more, I enjoy knowing the numbers – but I can still enjoy the game without knowing.

            Your system would make the numbers rule what is an exciting and fast paced game. It would ruin it in ways I don’t think you are considering. Instead of getting a steal and streaking down the court, now you have to think about what your ratio of points is compared to the rest of the teams. Late in the game if you have ‘too many points’, the defenders will sag off of you like you have the plague and help defend the other four guys/girls on the floor, making the game slow down since everybody knows you shouldn’t waste a shot, or causing your coach to call a time out after almost every basket to take people out. Worst of all, the end of the game will be left to official review to double check the point totals and see if the team that won actually lost or if it should result in OT. The worst thing about modern sports is the minute it takes the officials to review a game winning shot/TD/HR/Etc. Takes all of the fun out of the moment. It’s understandable because people want to see things be right, but imagine having that feeling and waiting period after every game.

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