Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Bounce-Pass: A Metaphor for Life & Ending Homelessness

There is nothing sexy about the bounce pass. I’ll be the first to admit how much I wowed I am by a high-flying alley-oop, or a quick no-look pass. Not all “dishes” were created equal. But when it comes to getting the ball from “a” to “b,” the bounce pass is as good as it gets.

It’s a fundamental of the game and fundamentals should never be taken for granted. And no one masters this fundamental of the game like Steve Nash. I don’t know that they keep a stat on the number of bounce passes a player delivers during a game, but my guess is he executes more in one game than in the entire league combined.

Since making note of his tendency at the Warriors vs. Suns game on February 13, I have paid attention to how often the bounce pass is used in both men's and women's basketball. I won’t go so far as to say it’s rare, but it’s certainly infrequent. I think this is unfortunate, because a bounce pass equals execution. It’s as simple as it gets in a sport that knows a lot of flash and hustle. You can’t fake one. It requires the right timing and placement and little more.

Maybe it’s because I remember learning how to complete the bounce pass (and had success doing so as a fourth grader on the St. Mary’s basketball team), but I started to think about the “bounce pass” in a metaphorical sense. There are fundamentals in life. We are asked to execute and move the ball everyday. A bounce pass in life may not stand out or get recognized, but it's effective. And the story “Massachusetts’ Doctor Writes Prescription to End Homelessness” confirmed for me that a “bounce pass” in the game of social service / outreach can and does work.

Dr. Jessie Gaeta started working as a doctor with homeless populations several years ago; she realized her patients were facing a similar challenge. She said “people have a really hard time prioritizing their health needs over things like figuring out where you're going to sleep that night." Consequently, the Boston Medical Center ER became a revolving door for homeless patients. "It wasn't until I had just a couple of patients housed," said Gaeta, "that I saw this turnaround in their health. Basically I was seeing that if I could write a prescription for keys to an apartment that that was going to do more to improve the health of the patient sitting in front me than the prescription I can write for anything else."There is nothing “sexy” about her prescription. No newly approved drugs, no sophisticated politic, no dynamic leadership. Dr. Gaeta, like Gavin Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco realize that housing is health care.

Shelter is a basic need—a fundamental for every human life. Like the bounce pass, this fundamental shouldn’t be taken for granted. A program like this shouldn’t be rare but it is. The city of San Francisco launched a similar prescription under the name of “Care not Cash.” Other cities have followed, but not enough. Like the bounce pass, I hope more communities will execute and make a difference. What’s at stake? A lot. "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Ghandi

Photo Credits
Dr. Gaeta
Bounce Pass Stick Figures
Young Girl Learns to Execute the BP

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