“How Basketball Can Save the World”: A 14-Week College Course

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The New York University course uses basketball as a way to explore culture, politics and commerce, seeing how the game served as a binding force, while also being an outlet for new ideas .

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The concept started innocently.

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David Hollander’s day job was as a teacher teaching sports business, while he played basketball in his spare time.

Eventually, he put two and two together and came up with the idea for “How Basketball Can Save the World,” a 14-week course that usually takes place during the spring semester at New York University.

“I’ve always loved basketball, but I’ve also seen the world fall apart everywhere,” Hollander said in an interview.

“I really felt like we could use basketball principles and philosophy as a guide to solving problems. I took it to some deans at NYU and pushed it through some bureaucracy.

Manock Lual uses his Prezdential Basketball organization to work with kids and teach them about life through basketball.
Manock Lual uses his Prezdential Basketball organization to work with kids and teach them about life through basketball. Photo by Ashley Fraser /POSTMEDIA

The course uses basketball as a way to explore culture, politics and commerce, seeing how the game has served as a binding force, while also being an outlet for new ideas.

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“We introduce 13 Principles of Basketball as a philosophy, as a way to solve problems, and bring guests to explore everything from immigration, gender, race, fashion and all kinds of global issues. “

Class trips have included trips to outdoor courts and to the National Basketball Association draft.

The list of guest speakers included authors, filmmakers, Hall of Fame players and an opera singer.

Leo Doyle, a well-connected Ottawa basketball player, also linked Hollander to PrezDential CEO Manock Lual.

Manock Lual, a former professional basketball player, has returned to his roots in a tough Ottawa neighborhood, teaching kids about life through basketball and keeping them away from potentially dangerous situations.
Manock Lual, a former professional basketball player, has returned to his roots in a tough Ottawa neighborhood, teaching kids about life through basketball and keeping them away from potentially dangerous situations. Photo by Ashley Fraser /POSTMEDIA

Doyle has worked closely with Lual to help create more opportunities for young players and is involved in the Junior Achievement program between PrezDential and Hillcrest High School.

Lual spoke to the NYU class remotely last month.

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“I shared a video from a UN agency involving Manock,” Hollander says.

“He then talked about what basketball meant to him, how he used it to teach empathy, and I felt like I was talking to my twin brother.”

Hollander says Lual’s message was ideal for what the course is about.

Prezdential Basketball CEO Manock Lual worked with kids at Ottawa Technical High School on Saturday, April 9, 2022.
Prezdential Basketball CEO Manock Lual worked with kids at Ottawa Technical High School on Saturday, April 9, 2022. Photo by Ashley Fraser /POSTMEDIA

“He shared his journey from South Sudan and tried to manage and that (growing up) the only place he felt good with other people was on the basketball court. After he quit playing, it took him a while to see that basketball meant something and turned it into a program for troubled kids and talked about The Overbrook Show, a very high profile production.

Hollander also sees the success of the Toronto Raptors as an example of how basketball can galvanize people who have arrived from elsewhere in the world.

“What’s happening in Toronto, and in Canada as a whole, is incredible,” he said. “It’s a game for newcomers. It provides a sense of belonging and an expression of creativity. It is a model for the world.

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