Organized basketball vs “street ball:” Which is better?

By Henry Caron

East Chapel Hill High is in love with basketball. East’s school team is looking to have a dominant basketball season this year with its star Carter Collins leading the pack. Other students enjoy playing in recreational leagues while even more just love playing for fun in some ‘street ball,’ known also as ‘pickup,’ the type of basketball friends play who don’t utilize basketball strategy.

There is a distinction students make between organized basketball and street basketball, but the question lies in which is superior. It is the level of competition, the style, and the flow of the game that define the types of basketball.

Street basketball is defined by its lack of structure.  When a group of friends gather to play, they aren’t looking for the same type of intensity that one could expect from organized basketball. When friends gather, they do it for a social event. Junior Len Keller said, “everyone is just having fun, getting a break from the workday, and trying to run around and get some exercise.” There are no defined positions, no set plays, and no particular strategies.

There’s no like organized plays, but we get pretty intense,” said Keller. “[There are] no like drawn up plays or cuts to the basket.” They are also physically demanding but not overly competitive, as players focus on having fun over winning. Plus, a variety of players are attracted to it.

Keller said, “There are two types of people. For example, me, I score a lot of points, but [Junior] David [Margolies] is more of a ‘have fun’ kind of guy. It is this range of skill and athleticism levels that defines the street game. Games finally go on for far longer, as there are no time constraints imposed. Due to the fact that there are no referees, players abide by the honor code if a call is made.

Margolies said, “there’s no rules out here man, it’s the street!”

Organized basketball is on a whole different level of intense competition. Junior Carter Collins thinks that “pickup sometimes gets competitive, but organized basketball is usually more competitive because you’re actually playing for something.” In East basketball’s case, the PAC-6 championship and state championship are up for grabs. Players on the East basketball team train and practice daily, working on a variety of offensive plays and defensive strategies. The team runs various zone defenses and has set plays involving screens, cuts, and passes. Collins sees this as allowing creativity and flow in the game. “I love the creativity that goes into [basketball], and you can have that creativity in organized,” Collins said.

It is these plays that allows more cohesion during play. Collins said, “everyone’s not all over the place, and the spacing is there, so [there is] more structure”. The skill and ability of players is some of the best in the area, with some players, Collins included, being scoped out by universities. For him, “organized [basketball] is still as fun, if not more fun, than pickup, probably because [he does] better in organized basketball.”

Friends ball out on the court like many East students do frequently

There are clear distinctions between the organized and casual worlds of basketball. There are also advocates for each type of game. However, it is impossible to make a clear choice as to which style of game is better, as one’s preference depends on the goal of playing is. If one is looking to relieve stress, have fun, and socialize, street basketball is the way to go. But if one is looking to devote him or herself and become a master at the game, organized basketball will provide that result.

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