Basketball in Indonesia; How It Become a Status Symbol

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I remember, back then when I was still in primary school, on Physical Education class outside. Sure, most of us hated P.E. ( me too! ), but there were moments, precious moments, that sports when we were kids was not about having who has the highest score or who can out-finesse who, but it was about having fun — playing in teams until you drench out that skimped P.E. shirt.

And then we grow up.

Sports were accessible for kids. Back then, we would dig out that sandbox to play marbles, put our shoes on the ground as goalposts, put traffic cones and play softball, or even draw chalk on certain points and race away. That’s not always the case with playing basketball.

Some kids were richer than others; they could afford to buy their own basketball, and their shoes were always “drip” hard. While you can always buy a plastic ball to play football. If I were correct, they cost just about $0.1 each. When you can play any sports just about anywhere, you have to have a basketball court to play basketball. You need the ball, the nets, the shoes — everything. They were the “rich-kids” sports here, at least where I grew up.

So, back then, not a lot of kids like it — that leads to not so many ended up playing it, getting good at it, and receiving scholarship for it. I remember the photos for competitions and accolades and achievements; ALL of them have expensive shoes. Some of them even straight up said that the higher your equipments’ price tag, the more they will help up your skills. So basically, it was like NBA 2K, where if you equip Air Jordan XI, you will get a +10 dunk boost. But in real life.

So the sports were not that “open” for everyone, in fact — it was pretty segmented. Not to mention the women’s basketball. Being told that you will never be as good as the men’s or you should give it up and study your books already — that was one of the things I remember vaguely and that was further locking up this sport door with additional padlock, instead of making keys and lockpicks.

This does not apply to everyone and every time, of course. There were occasions, albeit rare, that some were actually comes from humble beginnings, hustle hard, and eventually make it. But that was one, from thousands other that did not take interest at all, maybe some of them had physical talent, but booed off because their shoes did not come from high-end outlets. Some of them made it halfway, but give up their dream because several people in “high places” needed their shares, so to say.

And until the time comes when everyone here can play it casually, people — especially the ones from the lower classes, will always resorts to other sports. Those that sparks joy without much-needed equipment. And I personally think, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

What about fencing? Equestrian? Archery?

It will takes years, and maybe more; for kids to know these sports, to ACTUALLY play it. Hell, I even never played any of those sports. And maybe my kids won’t either. So, are they missing out the fun? Or they were actually having fun, albeit never played them? My honest opinion actually, it is that awesome of an experience, when you get to play sports without having to worry about what colors your shoes will be or will they match your jerseys, or how much you spent on that headband…but rather just play it off. Have fun.