EP2: Does Basketball Actually Develop Virtues?

Comments: 6

Do human beings truly develop virtues, morals, and spiritual qualities through playing the sport of basketball? Or is basketball just a trivial pursuit and waste of time?

In Episode 2 of “Elevated Conversations” I explore the Baha’i Writings; the reflections of the inventor of basketball, James Naismith; as well as my own personal experience to share how we can practically develop virtuous qualities through the sport of basketball.

5 Virtues I’ve developed through playing basketball:

  1. Excellence
  2. Truthfulness/Reconciliation
  3. Encouragement
  4. Humility
  5. Contentment

5 Virtues we can understand through the metaphor of basketball:

  1. Spiritual Initiative
  2. Spiritual Agility
  3. Spiritual Accuracy
  4. Spiritual Skill
  5. Spiritual Muscle Memory

Basketball: It’s Origin and Development by James Naismith

Muscular Christianity

The Virtues Project

Baha’i Quotations on Virtues
Bahá’u’lláh’s Tablet of Wisdom

Gleaning from the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh

Paris Talks of `Abdu’l-Bahá’

Action Step: Reflect on your own personal motivations for playing basketball, others sports, or various forms of recreation. Are you motivations of the higher nature? How can you elevate your motivations?

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Thanks for listening! I hope you enjoyed episode 2 😊. Please be sure to leave me your comments and feedback on the episode below! 👇


  • Jay says:

    In the game finding the ability to enjoy someone else’s success is beneficial. Congratulating a teammate for a hustle play or a good move allows you to drop the ego a little and feel like you’re a part of something. Self-improvement is the other benefit I remember. Putting in the effort to become a shooter or ball handler gives you visible rewards, same thing with trying to improve your character.

    • Yes, finding success in others’ accomplishments is huge! Not only teammates, but I’d even argue opponents. I think that’s really one of the biggest tests in sports, but can actually lead to the biggest growth in character. Self improvement is also huge, and the instant results of seeing the ball going in the hoop after working on your shooting form is awesome. Similarly, when we know what result we’re looking for and what we’re working on spiritually, we can have this same type of joy as our virtues strengthen and grow :).

  • David D says:

    Hello all-
    I’m really enjoying these podcasts. Thank you.
    A motive that most if not all people have in life is to “feel good”. Although I want this, it’s no longer one of my primary conscious goals in life. God has given mankind EVERYTHING, including a myriad of tools to improve our lives, most important of which is the development of our souls. I am given a choice as to how I apply those tools to my life. As Colby mentioned regarding motives. I’m used to sending the children outside to play games on their own. But I am now aware that they really need a responsible person to guide them, provide order, direction, and fairness. Although I don’t want to be out there with them, I feel that it’s my responsibility as the adult to attend to this job. I hope I can make that decision this Sunday!

    • Wow, it’s awesome to see that the content in the podcast is resonating deeply! I’ll be eager to hear from you about how your efforts develop in guiding the children through the recreation activities in order to help them more systematically develop their virtues and moral attributes. Would love to hear what you learn through your experience! 🙏

  • Monica Jeffers says:

    Sports is known for developing virtues. For example, when a child is told “be a good sport” means to get along with others and accept a win or a loss with contentment and without ill-feeling. Also, anyone who plays sports, including basketball, would have to focus on his/her health, daily regimen, cleanliness of body and mind, in order to be better at his/her sport. A true athlete realizes that acquiring virtues is the best part of sports! Thank you for sharing this podcast Colby!

    • All excellent points! James Naismith also points out “sportsmanship” as one of the values or virtues that is developed through the game of basketball. He defines sportsmanship as “playing the game vigorously, observing the rules definitely, accepting defeat gracefully, and winning courteously.” Very similar to your own definition! I also like your definition of a “true” athlete. I think that could be a podcast episode on it’s own!!

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