The Adversity Framework

3 min readNov 21, 2019
KING Hoops practice — 2019

Basketball is not just a part of New York City’s identity, for so many it defines New York City’s culture. The game is as inclusive as it can get in the concrete jungle: courts are littered in every corner of the 5 boroughs with pick up games that turn into viewer spectacles. At a very young age, kids growing up in New York City, are entranced by the sport and often times find their identity through the game. Kids in the Game, like NYC, is rooted in basketball. Our staff is littered with former college players and coaches that are dedicated to passing the game onto the next generation. As Director of KING Hoops for the past 3 years I have had a chance to dive head first into this world. While, I live and breathe basketball, New York provides a unique view of the harm that the current basketball scene does to children and families.

I have been coaching basketball for over a decade, and coaching youth basketball for the past 3 years here in New York City. While working in youth development, in any city, there are struggles and the landscape of youth sports is ever changing, and ever challenging. New York City may bring a plethora of basketball crazed kids and families, it also brings challenges. Two trends that I have seen a large spike in the past couple seasons are centered around adversity.

  1. Parents inability to allow their children to face adversity
  2. Children’s inability to manage and work through adversity

Eat dirt, it’s good for you “every parent grapples with this critical decision — whether to swoop in to help their kids or to let them struggle, fall or fail.” — Leaders Eat Last

There seems to be a massive disconnect between coaches and parents about how to help and manage when their child faces adversity. This could be a variety of things from playing time, to injuries, to issues within the team dynamic. In most cases, the parent’s initial reaction to the flight / fight feeling is always flight. Too often, we have seen and heard parents complain about the coaches, other parents, even other kids. But what we have yet to see is a parent say to a coach, “we see there is a problem, we see our child is not innocent in this problem, and we are going to address this problem.”

“All of that over-parenting has also made many of them desperately afraid of failure and uncertain how to handle conflict or setbacks” — Leaders Eat Last

Due to the lack of accountability from parents, in turn, the players are programmed to think and react the same way. If something goes wrong, their initial reaction is to deflect and place blame. This has trickled all the way down to the middle school level where if a player has one bad weekend they are re-evaluating their coach, their team and their program. And because we are in this New York City landscape where basketball is king, there is no shortage of programs to transfer to — it is a never ending revolving cycle. Many would say this trend has contributed in large part to the current college basketball transfer epidemic.

Can you imagine as an adult changing jobs every quarter because your boss said something you didn’t like? And yes this is a millennial writing this.

Another trend that I have seen is the lack of ability to allow your kid to be coached. I know, that sounds crazy — the whole point of youth sports is to be developed by a coach — so why bite the hand that you’re feeding?! However, I find that allowing a coach to provide constructive criticism and giving honest feedback, without the urge to immediately disagree is foreign territory for many parents. Parents have seemingly lost the concept of a coach doing something that is best for the team, these actions by the coach should not be viewed as an angry vendetta against their child.

Getting to work and participate in the mecca of New York City basketball is a blessing and a curse. And is a task that we don’t take lightly and that our team is dedicated to do the “right” way. Our KING Hoops program is not immune to facing the problems described above, but we are certainly dedicated to not feeding into the system.




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