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Squad of 80-Year-Old Ballers Prove Age Is Just a Number

5 minute read

Steph Curry, Lebron James and...Marge Carl. While the last name on this short list might not be a household name (yet, anyway) they all share one thing in common; they are all current, active, basketball players. No, Marge Carl is not a towering WNBA player in the spring of youth. In fact, she is an 87 year old member of one the most remarkable basketball teams in the world, the San Diego Splash.

Recently featured on ESPNW, in a video with now over 6 million views, the Splash inspire people across the country with their love for the game. Competing as part of the San Diego Senior Women's Basketball Association, a league where all participants must be over the age of fifty, the Splash have taken the league by storm as the oldest group in the division.

The league format consists of games of three versus three, with two halves of fifteen minutes per game. Games are played in a half court format and the league is divided into recreational and competitive divisions.

Sessions for the league take place across every season of the year, with each session lasting roughly two and a half months (anywhere between 8-10 weeks). Remember, even the likes of Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade get to enjoy some form of off season, and do not play year round. Now that's dedication from these ladies.

Clearly, the ladies of the Splash face a daunting schedule throughout their season, and sometimes the rigors catch up with them. Numerous injuries have been reported, including team member Meg Skinner, 87, who has suffered two broken wrists and four broken fingers throughout her playing career.

Still, nothing can slow these women down, and all keep returning year after year. Proving remarkable toughness, Skinner almost seems to completely disregard her injuries, commenting that "you'll break an arm, you'll break a leg." 

Growing up, these women never really received much of an opportunity to play sports or be athletes at all. Title IX, legislation that opened the door for female athletes across the country to finally start competing, was only signed in 1972.

Title IX increased female participation in school sports to a completely unprecedented level, and many women (the Splash teammates included) were ready to pounce on the opportunity. In regards to their lack of opportunity in childhood, team member Marge Carl mentions "I was 78 when I got my first pair of basketball shoes, so that was a thrill. Growing up...we didn't have an opportunity to play."

These inspiring women all have vast experience on the court by now. Each jumped at the opportunity to start playing basketball once the floodgates were opened for female athletes by that landmark legislation. Several members of the Splash have been playing basketball now for over twenty years, making up for lost time.

The women largely cite the desire to stay active in their elderly years as an inspiring factor in their ongoing basketball odyssey. Carl extolled the virtues of staying active in an interview with the San Diego Tribune in 2016, saying that "you've got to get engaged. You can't sit in a room watching TV...that's a death knell.". And she probably has a point, as it is now a well known phenomenon that social interaction can help elderly individuals live longer and more fulfilling lives.

The women of the team further hope that they can continue playing and stick together as a team for as long as their bodies allow them. They all describe a strong sense of camaraderie with their teammates, and were described by ESPNW as the "Splash Sisters", forming a surrogate family through their mutual love for basketball.

The San Diego Splash may not be the most famous team in basketball, and they may not be the most athletic, or be able to throw down a ferocious one handed dunk on their competition but they are a massive success, regardless of how you may define the word.

Whether through their multiple senior league championships, their sisterhood, or toughness in fighting through physical limitations, the Splash come together to form certainly the most fascinating, inspirational team in the sport. Proving that age is truly just a number, these women are experts in knowing how to make a real splash.

  1. http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/inspirational-stories/news/a44876/80-year-old-female-basketball-team/
  2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/prepare-to-be-utterly-delighted-by-this-badass-squad-of-80-year-old-ballers_us_595400c6e4b02734df2f9ab6