Summer basketball leagues and tournaments are quite popular this time of year, here in the New York metropolitan area and around the United States. The NBA’s Summer League has even found popularity after five years because of the interest in several of its newest rookies. Leagues and tournaments are sponsored by local and national organizations, such as the Rucker and Slam Jam in Harlem, the Kevin Bushell Pre-Teen Classic in Brooklyn, AAU nationals, sports apparel companies or deep pocket athletes such as Rod Strickland and Kyrie Irving’s summer basketball league held in the Bronx.

Many of the teams that participate in summer basketball programs and programs throughout the year are entered into these events by their coach. Most coaches at this level coach for several reasons. Reason No. 1, they aspire to coach as a profession—schools (middle or high), college and the pros. Some coaches at this level have become more successful, better known or as known as some of the athletes. Successful ones command high salaries and have agents to negotiate their contracts with teams and sponsors.

Another reason why some coach is to give back and share their knowledge, their experiences. Some want to help prevent youth from making the poor choices that they’ve made in the past. They want to help give young student athletes some direction and mentorship, and then there are those parents who coach because they feel that their children are talented enough to play, to compete, but they might not believe in or feel confident enough in having someone else coaching their children. They may feel that other coaches might not be good enough, qualified or sensitive enough to their children’s talents, so they put together teams themselves that compliment their prodigies’ skill sets.

In sports, a coach is a person involved in the direction, instruction, teaching and training of the players of the team and the team’s operations. Ethics is important. Parents of the team’s players are putting their faith and confidence in the coach. In some cases, the coach has become a father figure, sometimes even the baby sitter. A coach confided in me that he brought his Super Biddy team all the way to the Bronx from Brooklyn early in the day. The parents know that they’ll return at a specified time later that day for them to pick up their sons, but a parent or someone in charge may not be there when they get back.

The coach explained, “Now the son has been with me all day, traveling from Brooklyn to the Bronx, the Bronx to Brooklyn, and yo, sometimes they come without any money. I’m the coach. I take it out of my pocket, and sometimes I have to baby-sit. The mother may be shopping or getting her hair done and isn’t answering her phone when we get back. I can’t just leave the kid out there on the street.”