Basketball Phantom

Does Basketball Make You Taller?

Does playing basketball make you taller?

This is actually a fairly frequently asked question.

Until recently, I would have laughed at you and tell you “hell no!

Playing basketball does not make you taller.” After having researched the topic, there are some valid points and arguments made that playing basketball does make you taller.

However, I’m still going to tell you “hell no! Playing basketball does not make you taller”, but I will say it without a laugh this time as it seems to be a valid question.

Does Basketball Make You Taller

Medical Proof

There are no medical findings that succinctly proves that playing basketball makes you taller.

  • Without any medical proof that answering the question does basketball make you taller, I am not willing to say that it does.

Darwinism

The theory of evolution by natural selection of those species best adapted to survive the struggle for existence.

  • Basketball tends to be a self-selecting sport.
  • When someone decides to play basketball, they do not miraculously gain a few inches of height.
  • Being tall provides an advantage in basketball.
  • You cannot teach someone to be tall, but you can teach them the skills necessary to be a good basketball player.
    • That is the reason many college coaches will take a gamble on tall kids who have only been playing basketball for a year or two. These coaches can teach them how to dribble, pass, shoot, and block shots properly, but a coach cannot teach a kid who already knows how to dribble, pass, shoot, and block shots how to be taller.
    • No matter how skilled a short basketball player is, once they have stopped growing, they will never be tall. Muggsy Bogues probably played more basketball than 99% of the world yet he was 5’3 and 137 pounds during his playing days. Basketball did not make him taller. Genetics kept him at his height.
    • Does being a good passer mean your hands will grow? 
    • Does having good court vision mean your eyes will grow wider?
    • Does walking make your feet bigger? The answer to all of these questions is “no”
    • So does basketball make you taller? No!

Fallacy

All basketball players are tall so that must mean playing basketball makes you tall, right? That’s incorrect; this is a fallacy.

It could be considered a Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

  • Meaning “After this, therefore because of this.”
  • When you look at basketball players, most of them are very tall, thus basketball must make people taller!

Lamarckism

A theory of biological evolution holding that the changes occurring in an organism through use and disuse of its body parts in response to environmental change are inherited by its offspring.

Differences between Darwinism and Lamarckism

To show these differences it is best to use an example. In this example, each will explain the reasoning for giraffes having long necks. Attempt to relate the example to a basketball player being tall. Does basketball make you taller? Think that through after reading the examples.

Darwin:

  • A giraffe with a longer neck can reach food high up
  • A giraffe with a longer neck is more likely to get enough food to survive to reproduce
  • A giraffe’s offspring inherit its long neck via genetics

Lamarck:

  • A giraffe stretches its neck to reach food high up
  • The giraffe’s neck gets longer because it’s used a lot
  • The giraffe’s offspring inherit its long neck

The theory given by Lamarck was eventually discredited. This is because there is no genetic basis for acquired characteristics.

There may be a correlation between basketball and tall people, but there is not a causation.

Arguments for does basketball make you taller.

To show these differences it is best to use an example. In this example, each will explain the reasoning for giraffes having long necks. Attempt to relate the example to a basketball player being tall. Does basketball make you taller? Think that through after reading the examples.

Darwin:

  • A giraffe with a longer neck can reach food high up
  • A giraffe with a longer neck is more likely to get enough food to survive to reproduce
  • A giraffe’s offspring inherit its long neck via genetics

Lamarck:

  • A giraffe stretches its neck to reach food high up
  • The giraffe’s neck gets longer because it’s used a lot
  • The giraffe’s offspring inherit its long neck

The theory given by Lamarck was eventually discredited. This is because there is no genetic basis for acquired characteristics.

There may be a correlation between basketball and tall people, but there is not a causation.

Arguments against does basketball make you taller.

  • Jumping compresses the joints and spine.
  • People are simply self-selected for their sports.

Conclusion

Ultimately people are going to believe whatever it is that they want to believe. I prescribe to scientific facts when trying to make an informed decision about how the body works.

I was a former collegiate basketball player. At no point did I believe playing basketball made me taller. Growing up, the majority of my friends were Filipino. We played basketball at least 5 times a week. None of my Filipino friends are particularly tall.

In the Philippines, basketball is probably the most beloved sport. The likes of Manny Pacquiao as well as a good majority of Filipinos enjoy playing basketball.

Let’s call it what it is. Filipinos, in general, are short. So do I prescribe to the notion that playing basketball makes you taller?

Again, hell no! I am a believer that people tend to gravitate towards what they have a competitive advantage in. Do you see a lot of skinny offensive linemen?

No, because they would not have a competitive advantage in being an offensive linemen in football.

Would you say that being an offensive linemen is the cause of them being fat? No!

There is a correlation because of competitive advantage, but not a causation.

So let me repeat, does basketball make you taller? Hell no!