It’s a fair assumption that winter sports are ports that involve cold and icy conditions. For example, sports like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, or hockey are commonly known as winter sports due to their association with this seasonal weather.
However, you’d be surprised how many others are considered winter sports, even if they don’t seem very chilly at all. One such sport is basketball.
In this article, I’ll go over what factors play into what makes a winter sport and which sports associations consider it a winter sport.
Basketball As A Winter Sport
Basketball is generally played on an indoor roofed court on a dry surface. It’s technically a sport that can be played all year round. While this exact reason may be why it’s generally not considered a winter sport, it is also the same reason why it actually is.
Let’s compare basketball with others that are not considered winter sports. Outdoor games like football and beach volleyball require an outdoor location to be played. This is why it comes as no surprise that these two are considered summer sports.
Playing soccer and beach volleyball would drastically affect the players and how the game is played. Both rely on a specific type of environment. Soccer requires a grass pitch, and beach volleyball requires a sandy surface – the winter weather is conducive to neither of these requirements. So, typically, these sports are put on break during the winter months.
Basketball, on the other hand, is played indoors safely and away from the outside weather. This means that players don’t need to take a break. When it’s cold and snowy outside, you can still play basketball inside. If anything, the “weather” can even be controlled within a basketball court.
For example, the NBA monitors the temperatures and humidity levels in their arenas to ensure they don’t go beyond a certain threshold and affect the players.
Basketball Leagues That Play Through Winter Season
1. National Basketball League (NBA)
In the NBA, the preseason starts in the fall at the end of September. During this time, the players have four weeks to train for the official season in October. A season will typically include 30 teams with 82 games. Half of these matches are played on the home court, while the other half are played on the road.
Since there are quite a few teams and a lot of games before the playoffs, a full season will typically run all the way through from October to the year after. Games continue into the winter months of December, January, and most of February when there is a short two-week break. It resumes after this short break and continues into springtime in April.
2. College Basketball
College basketball can be typically divided into four distinct phases. Each of these phases begets the next starting with non-conference play.
Non-conference play is when college basketball teams play against other teams that are not within their conference. These games are used by the NCAA to determine which teams make it into the next phase.
Among the four phases in a season, it is only the non-conference phase that takes place in the winter months of November and December.
3. High School Basketball
High school basketball schedules are not consistent from year to year. However, it’s safe to say that most schools start the season roughly around Thanksgiving at the end of November. This initial phase is called the tryouts, where basketball coaches assess potential players from a pool of interested volunteers. These potential players are placed in teams and pitted against each other in games.
High school basketball games are typically only held 2-3 times a week and only on the weekends, so a whole season of high school basketball requires several months to conclude. From the tryouts phase in November, a whole season of high school basketball stretches to the next year in springtime in April. This means that high school basketball does continue throughout the winter.
Is Basketball An Olympic Winter Sport?
Even though basketball can technically be played during the winter, the sport is not included in the Winter Olympics. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) strictly only considers sports that are played on an icy or snowy surface for the games.
Examples of outdoor winter sports include alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and ski jumping. There are also indoor sports within the winter Olympics category that are played inside on an icy surface. For example, curling and figure skating.
There have been many calls for basketball to be considered an official winter sport by the Olympic committee, even though its gameplay doesn’t require snowy or icy environments. The reasons for these are twofold: basketball can be played indoors throughout the winter, and it is a highly popular sport that can bring even more value and attendees to the Winter Olympics.
While the arguments for the inclusion of basketball into the list of Winter Olympic sports are absolutely valid, there does remain another side to this issue. All professional basketball leagues in the US already spend a portion of their season training and playing during the winter months. So, if a basketball league or team qualifies to compete in the Winter Olympics, they would need to do it mid-season.
Having to compete in two different and separate seasons at the same time could dramatically impact the athletes’ training regime. What’s more, this pause in the middle of the season would also require the whole season to be pushed forward an additional few weeks beyond the usual finals in April.
Basketball can be played year-round because its gameplay doesn’t depend on an outdoor environment that is affected by seasonal weather changes. It is definitely considered a winter sport by various sports associations such as the NBA, the NCAA, and even FIBA. However, it is not considered a winter sport by the IOC simply because its gameplay doesn’t involve icy or snowy surfaces.
Jeff Carroll is a young and talented professional basketball player under the age of 40. He has quickly made a name for himself in the league with his impressive skills and dedication to the game. Off the court, he is also known for his charitable work and commitment to giving back to his community.