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Shooting hoops

Discussion: The impact of basketball

March 13, 2020

Shooting hoops

Discussion: The impact of basketball

March 13, 2020


Basketball has piqued our interest and captured our attention for decades. But, it’s more than just a sport. The world of basketball is full of diversity, progressive ideas, and leadership that inspires change far beyond the court.

Last month, Wintrust hosted an enlightening panel discussion about the impact of the sport on our communities led by Edward J. Wehmer, Founder & CEO of Wintrust.

The panelists included:

  • Stephen Bardo, Chicago Chapter president, National Basketball Retired Players Association
  • Ashley Hailey, director of aquatic sports, South Side YMCA
  • Michael L. Thompson, president & CEO, Fair Oaks Farms, LLC

The following is a brief recap of some of the topics discussed, which has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What do you think playing basketball and sports in general does for a kid?

Ashley Hailey: In my opinion, it builds the foundation for leadership characteristics, not only on the court but also off the court. For example, kids have studies and (basketball) keeps them rooted. If I know I can't play if I don't pass (a class), I'm going to do everything I can to excel in the classroom.

Michael L. Thompson: You learn team, you begin to learn discipline, and those are the key factors you build for success. Growing up, I'm an inner-city kid from Chicago, a South Sider, and at the age of 13 I was 6-foot-3, so I got dragged into the sport whether I liked it or not. But, the emphasis on team, it was phenomenal.

Stephen Bardo: Basketball will teach you how to overcome adversity, how to work with people you don't like, how to do something for a coach you possibly don't like, (and) that's the real world. I think basketball teaches real-world experiences we all need to have.

What lessons did you learn on the court that you took into your business to make it successful?

SB: I've been fortunate enough to translate anything in business into basketball terminology. If you can overlay any kind of business idea or challenge to what you know, what you've mastered, it allows you to learn anything. That's what basketball's done. For me, there is no challenge I find I can't overcome because I can match my knowledge in basketball and apply it to anything that's challenging me.

MT: Persistence is probably the biggest lesson I've learned. Another couple things: You learn that losing is temporary. Winning is temporary, too, but if you gain the mindset of losing being temporary, then you know you can overcome because there's another game, there's another deal, there's another opportunity coming around. And, the other thing is the work ethic that I got out of learning the game, the discipline of that, it set my work ethic for life.

How do you see the sport impacting families?

AH: I believe it can bring the family together. If you have one kid that plays basketball and you have other children that have not been into sports, they see their bigger sister or brother playing that sport and now they’re intrigued and they want to learn. It brings a big family horizon together. Not only do you have your one child playing, but you can put your other kids in and you can be a volunteer coach or can referee or cheer at the games for your kids. It brings the family together, so it becomes a lifelong memory.

MT: Basketball is a team sport. To me, family is a team. You want your team to be respected, you want your family to be respected. You want your team to be successful, you want your family to be successful. It’s a good kind of pressure that it puts on your family members, that you never want to let your family down. So, thinking of the family as a team, just the pure success of it all, I think it helps build and bind families.

To watch the full discussion, click here.

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