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***Editor’s Note: In an effort to support the BMOA’s mission of “Empowering Minds and Building Leaders”, this year we commissioned a Chicago Public School student to serve as guest correspondent for the 2017 McDonald’s All American Games. The students was given full access to Games Week activites and athletes and asked to write a creative piece on their experience. Below is the student’s take on this year’s Games.  Opinions expressed within do not represent McDonald’s Corporation or the Black McDonald’s Operators Association ***


Should the NBA Allow Women To Play In The League?

By Jaden Merritt

Should women be allowed to play professional basketball in the same league as men? I was honored to ask this question to several McDonald’s All American basketball players and coaches during the national competition that was held in Chicago March 27th – 29th. I figured that these are the best high school basketball players in the nation, and they should give some great answers and insight into this controversial sports topic. Many of the responses were predictable. However, I was surprised and shocked in the differences between how the girl and boy athletes responded to the questions.

I decided to ask my question to Jaylen Hands first, my favorite high school prospect. I asked him, “Should women be allowed to play in the NBA?”  He started his response by saying “I don’t want to discriminate,” showing that he has no hate for the girl’s talent, but then went on to say “but I don’t think they should join. There is a huge difference in athleticism.” He helped to prove his point by giving more in-depth reasoning to his answer. He mentioned that he doesn’t know how things like fouls would be called on or against a girl.

UCLA commit Jaylen Hands – Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock/ McDonald’s All American Games

Five-star high school prospect Quade Green gave a similar answer, but said it even more bluntly “I don’t think so because the NBA would overpower the WNBA,” elaborating on how girls may not be talented and athletic enough to guard and be guarded by men. He added, “I just don’t think it would be fair.” However, he did go on to say that even though he doesn’t think they should or will play in the NBA, that the WNBA should get more publicity than it currently does. That was a pretty interesting twist in his perspective.

University of Kentucky commit Quade Green – Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock/ McDonald’s All American Games


I then asked girl’s high school basketball superstar Maya Dodson the exact same question, and she seemed to think longer about her answer than the boys. After a long pause, she replied, “Even though we may not be as athletic (as the boys), we are just as competitive and have the same amount of heart as they do.” From this short conversation I took away that she was more neutral than the boy athletes on this topic. I also asked her if merging the NBA and WNBA would be an acceptable alternative to having the girls play in the NBA. She seemed open to this line of thought.

Stanford University commit Maya Dobson – Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock/ McDonald’s All American Games

My last effort to get insight into the players’ mindsets on this topic was imposed with Michael Porter Jr., the #1 high school basketball prospect in the nation. His answer didn’t totally commit to one side (yes or no), but instead looked on both fronts “I mean, if a girl is good enough, and I’ve seen a couple that are close, then I have no problem with that. The NBA is just the best basketball league in the world so if a girl is good enough, then I mean, go for it.”

University of Missouri commit Michael Porter Jr – Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock/ McDonald’s All American Game


Student reporter Jaden Merritt interviewing Michael Porter, Jr at AAG Media Day –  Photo Credit: CourtCred via Instagram

It was very interesting to me that the best high school player in the nation feels open to the notion. His answer not only responded to my original question, but contradicts many people’s view on how the best of the best are contempt and arrogant. Michael Porter Jr. showed the opposite with his ability to look at both sides of the spectrum and not look down on anyone.

As for me, I’m on the fence about the entire subject. If I had to give my input, I would say that women should not play in the NBA. I do, however, agree with Quade Green that the WNBA should get much more publicity. There always seems to be more fanfare surrounding the NBA, despite the fact that women are extremely talented and exciting to watch. There are some differences in the athleticism and strength of men and women, which is why they should have their own branches of a sport. Furthermore, I don’t know how situations such as flagrant fouls and any calls related to contact would play out. Having a mixed team would definitely make the calls and plays more complicated. So for this reason, I don’t think women should play in the NBA. However, I also believe men should not play in the WNBA either. Both genders should play in separate leagues to uphold the integrity and fairness of the game.

2017 McDonald’s High School All-American Boys team – Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock/ McDonald’s All American Games

2017 McDonald’s High School All-American Girls team – Photo Credit: Brian Spurlock/ McDonald’s All American Games

The McDonald’s All American Games week was easily the single greatest week of my entire 15-year old life. Thank you to the Black McDonald’s Operators Association of Chicagoland and NW Indiana for this amazing opportunity.

For more inf on the McDonald’s All American Games visit: www.McDonaldsAllAmerican.com

Photo Credit: Kiana Keys via Facebook

Jaden Merritt is a Freshman at Lindblom Math & Science Academy in Chicago. He loves the game of basketball and hopes to be a sports journalist in the future.