Indie Flicks: Life Without Basketball

SMDCAC Presents

Indie Flicks: Life Without Basketball

Free Online Screening

Life Without Basketball - Official Trailer

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Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir broke records and barriers on her way to become the first division I athlete to play basketball while wearing hijab. When a controversial ruling ends her chances at playing professionally, she re-examines her faith and identity as a Muslim American.

Grab some popcorn and join us for virtual screening of the film followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers Jon Mercer and Tim O’Donnell.

SYNOPSIS: Life Without Basketball takes us inside the world of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir. As a record-breaking high  school  star  and  college  athlete,  her  life  as  a  basketball  player  had  structure  and  a  clear forward path. Bilqis was raised to follow the Quran and has been wearing hijab since the age of  fourteen.  She  extends  this  practice  onto  the  court  as  well,  covering  arms  and  legs underneath  her  uniform  and  wearing  a  tightly  wrapped  headscarf.  When  she  began  her college  career  in  2009  she  became  the  first  NCAA  Division  I  athlete  to  do  so.  Her  story attracted the attention of national media and later, the White House.

Having  just  come  off  the  best  year  of  her  college  career  at  Indiana  State,  Bilqis  began pursuing  her  goal  to  play  professionally.  At  this  point  she  was  informed  that  FIBA  (the international governing body for the sport) had a rule banning headscarves from international competition.  FIBA  initially  explained  the  rule  as  a  measure  to  keep  the  game  religiously neutral, and then later cited false safety concerns. The news came as a shock. Covering is an essential part of her faith and the rule puts her hoop dreams just out of grasp.

As  Bilqis  transitions  out  of  the  world  of  a  professional  athlete,  we  watch  as  she  focuses  her abilities on training the next generation of Muslim girls at the first of its kind athletic program at an  Islamic  school.  The  film  explores  the  complex  world  of  being  Muslim  in  America,  where family  tradition  and  public  perception  are  often  at  odds.  We  spend  time  with  her  parents  and family gaining understanding of the challenges unique to African American Muslims, especially those  who  have  converted  from  other  faiths.  We  also  elevate  the  sometimes  mundane  or ordinary  parts  of  life  that  all Americans  relate  to. The  film  examines  layers  of  identity,  radical change, and common nostalgia.

After years of protest FIBA revised their rule in May of 2017 and Bilqis is now eligible to return to the court. Before a speaking engagement at the Global Forum for Sport and Human Rights in Geneva, Bilqis finally obtains an in-person meeting with the organization. Despite their lack of apology and willingness to offer support, she decides to pursue the game again on her own.