Thursday, October 16, 2008
Who in the world are basketball moms? Glad you asked. I’m going to define basketball moms as those women who live in the working income communities of large cities, have school aged children and are employed in low paying retail or service jobs. (between $7 and $12 dollars an hour) As the title suggest their children are much more likely to spend time at the local basketball court instead of a soccer field or hockey rink.
Basketball moms are not regarded as the middle class but they do make up the new working class of this country. And let’s be clear. These people work. They do not sit at home and collect a check from the government. For those who wish to question that fact and live near a typical large city just check out a suburban mall or the local airport, many supermarkets or your average doctor’s office or hospital or any number of other businesses that employ this new working class. Like most other Americans, basketball moms are law abiding citizens who play an important part in this country’s economy. And like most of their soccer and hockey counterparts basketball moms are concerned with their children’s education and well-being. Unlike many of their counterparts however basketball moms are far more vulnerable to fluctuations in the economy. Their salaries don’t offer much flexibility when gas, home heating oil and food prices begin climb.
I’m not surprised at the lack of attention basketball moms get during the election cycle. Most politicians are far more interested in identifying with the ‘hard-working suburban middle-class’ who we’re told are the backbone of this country. Consequently, Bball moms get few visits from the candidates or even their running mates. (Though Sen. Obama did a four spot swing through Philly this past Saturday. Other than that however I know of no other times when the candidates visited the average basketball mom community). But again this isn’t surprising.
What does concern me is how the lack of interest in basketball moms can indicate that they and their issues are somehow less important than those of soccer or hockey moms. I’m not saying that basketball moms are poor (though I do believe that many of our new permanent working class live precariously close to the margins of society) nor am I advocating that the government shower them with money as if they were a mismanaged investment bank.
But since the president pledges to govern the United States of America shouldn’t he at least listen to the concerns of basketball moms? I ask this because it does seem that for the foreseeable future the country will have a new permanent working class. However due to a number of factors this working class may spend much of their lives walking the tightrope between making it and poverty. The cost of health care, (many of them don’t have employer sponsored health plans) housing and college may permanently lock them and their children into a lifestyle of barely getting by.
And I wonder if it’s in the long-term interest of this country to have a group of people who indeed work but can’t imagine their work ever really paying off or that their children will be able to secure the kind of education that will propel them into better careers. Nor do I believe that it will do to merely dismiss them to find their own way into the middle class while their government provides hundreds of billions of dollars to companies whose executives make a hundred times more than they. I have no problem with our politicians speaking to the concerns of soccer mom Susie or hockey mom Heather. But if we are to grow into becoming one nation our leaders along with the rest of us must also speak to the issues of basketball mom Brenda.
To Him Who Loves Us…