Although you must be 16 to work as a ball boy or girl for a professional basketball team, younger kids can volunteer for college teams. At the University of Utah, so many kids want to serve that there is a long waiting list. Each boy or girl will serve at one or two games during the season.
Ball kids at college games do the same job as in the pros. They hand out water and towels, dry the floor, keep track of warm-up jackets, and chase balls. They don't get paid, but they do get to spend the game down where the action is.
Basketball isn't the only sport where kids get to play a part. Next time you see a tennis match on TV, look closely at the ends of the net. One or two kids will be crouched there, ready to grab any loose balls when play is over. More kids stand at each end of the court to hand balls back to the players.
At football games, ball kids give out drinks and towels to players and dry off footballs. At volleyball games they chase down balls. In golf, young people may serve as caddies. Baseball is well-known for its "bat boys."
So if you want to be involved in a sport but aren't part of the team, look closely at the sidelines. There may be a place for you in the game, even if you can't hit a three-point shot or kick a football through the uprights. Someday you may even be a pro!