Bankshot and the Rabbi of Roundball
Date released: April 2013. Updated June 2013; September 2017
Partners: Rabbi Reeve Brenner and Bankshot
Rabbi Reeve Brenner created an inclusive basketball type game in 1981—now there are over 300 courts world wide. Read about the phenomenon of Bankshot.
This is the sort of program that we love at The Inclusion Club. It’s innovative. It’s inclusive. It’s fun. It carries an important message. And anyone can do it.
Based on Universal Design principles Bankshot is described as a “non-exclusionary” game that enables people with and without disabilities to play together with neither at a disadvantage.
The story of Bankshot is worth reading about. Here’s a brief snapshot. Bankshot was invented by Rabbi Reeve Brenner of Rockville, Maryland in the US in 1981. Reeve is not your average Rabbi! He has always been a Basketball nut – playing throughout his life all over the world.
Reeve is an interesting man. He says that his interests have always been two-fold—the sociology of religion and the sociology of recreation. He’s been a strong lobbyist, advocate and practitioner of both for a long time. He came up with the concept of Bankshot following an accident his cousin had in Israel in 1981. He saw how ‘excluded’ his cousin now was and started to re-invent a Basketball type game that stripped out the exclusionary elements of the sport.
What he came up with—and how it evolved—is quite remarkable.
Let Reeve explain a bit more. The interview extract below was taken from ‘Municipal Notebook’ (MCC TV)—you’ll see his passion and commitment shine through.
What Makes Bankshot Remarkable?
We said that Bankshot is remarkable. For us, it is remarkable for a number of reasons. We’ll try to summarise what we think are the hallmarks of this program that make it really inclusive. You will have a chance to understand the background and how to play Bankshot from the downloads and resources below—so we will not reiterate them here.
So why is Bankshot remarkable?
- Inclusive modifications
Bankshot is based on Basketball. But Bankshot ‘excludes’ many of the elements of the sport, thus making the Bankshot game very inclusive. Like running, jumping and blocking. Bankshot does not have physical opponents, thus eliminating physical contact and aggression. But Bankshot includes the core basic skill of shooting. It keeps the ball and the hoop rim dimensions standard but modifies the backboard, or ‘bankboard’ as they call it. The bankboards are core to Bankshot—they make the game easier yet more difficult. The shape changes as you progress through the stations of the Bankshot playcourt. Each participant finds their own level of difficulty and has their own challenge—whether it’s at station 1 or station 18. They become progressively more difficult but, as Reeve says, “the scores that the wheelchair players will achieve won’t be much different than than the others.”
- Persistence to run with a good idea
Reeve started Bankshot in 1981. That’s 32 years ago. I am sure that Reeve couldn’t have imagined that his idea would survive this long let alone grow to over 300 courts in the US and overseas. He wouldn’t have thought that there would be national championships, TV interviews and features in Sports Illustrated (and The Inclusion Club!!). There are other versions of Bankshot now too—Bankshot Tennis and Bankshot Tri Shots. But he persisted with a good idea. He pushed. He believed. That’s remarkable.
- Innovation and accessibility
It’s not easy to be innovative and creative. Not everyone can do it. Certainly, few people have the insight to adapt and modify an idea so that it becomes highly inclusive yet retains such strong integrity in the activity itself. The ability to be innovative and creative is core to adapting and modifying. We’ll be exploring this more in upcoming episodes. Bankshot is very accessible in a commercial sense too. The equipment is relatively inexpensive and very well thought through to keep costs of set up to a minimum and within the reach of many centres and organisations.
Take a look at some of the images of Bankshot in action.
There are a bunch of good resources on the Bankshot website you can find underneath. You can also download in a zip file two articles written about Reeve and Bankshot, one of them is the Sports Illustrated article mentioned above.
Finally, there is an excellent Bankshot website with full explanations of all the Bankshot activities, more video and images. Please take a look.
A big thanks to Reeve Brenner for his cooperation with this episode—and a massive ‘job well done’ for the success of Bankshot. Like we said at the start, we love this type of program. Please leave comments below, particularly if you have had any experience with Bankshot or similar types of activities.
Cheers for now.
About the author: Peter Downs
Founding Director - The Inclusion Club
Peter is Founding Director of The Inclusion Club and Manager of Play by the Rules – a national initiative to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport. Peter has worked for over 25 years in the field of inclusive sport, disability sport and physical activity including 17 years managing the Australian Sports Commission’s Disability Sport Unit. In 2013 Peter was fortunate enough to receive a Churchill Fellowship to study models of best practice in inclusive sport and physical activity.