At just 12-years-old, Olivier Rioux already stands at 6-foot-11 (2.11 meters) which makes him one heck of an asset for his basketball team. Not only can he shoot the ball without any of his opponents even coming close to a block, but he can literally slam dunk on the 8-foot-tall basket without his feet leaving the ground.
As you can imagine, Olivier Rioux is pretty dominant on the basketball courts, thanks in part to his skill, but mostly to the fact that all of the other players’ heads only come up to his bellybutton. That’s a pretty good advantage to have, in any situation. He can shoot whenever he wants, he’s literally always open for passes and as long as he’s close enough to his opponents, he can block any of their passes or shots. To say this Canadian 12-year-old is head and shoulders above his competition would be a pretty fair assessment.
Videos of Olivier completely obliterating the competition and leading his team, the Frenchy Phenoms, to victory have recently gone viral on YouTube and Facebook, and the unusually tall 12-year-old has been getting a lot of negative feedback. A lot of people seem to think that his impressive height is an unfair advantage over all the other kids, who, no matter their talent, are pretty much powerless against him. Some publications have gone as far as to mock Rioux and the Frenchy Phenoms supporters for celebrating after he scores, as if it were some great achievement, but I think it’s important to remember that, despite his towering figure, he is still just a kid.
Does Olivier’s height create a huge advantage for him? Without a doubt, but he’s neither the first nor the last to be in such a position. Just last year, we wrote about Robert Bobroczky, a 7-foot-7, 16-year-old freshman at SPIRE Institute, in Geneva, Ohio. Much like Rioux, he was already 7-feet-tall at age 12. Some kids just grow a lot more and a lot faster than most other kids their age. What are we supposed to do, make them play against 7-feet-tall adults, or create a special league just for “unusually tall kids” just so all the other kids don’t feel cheated? Would that be fair?
Here are some reactions from online sport journalists to Olivier Rioux’s total domination:
“Being two feet taller than everyone else and still staring down people after your blocks is an all-time rude move. I love it,” Wrote CBS Sports‘ Pete Blackburn. “Things might not come as easy for Rioux when he graduates to taller rims and taller, more skilled competition, but that doesn’t matter right now. All that matters is that we have these highlights for our entertainment, and that Rioux is living the dream — or at least my dream — for the time being.”
“Watching a seven-foot kid mercilessly destroy his competition on an eight-foot rim is magical. It feels like we’re witnessing something from a kid’s movie, not a child’s nightmare,” James Dator wrote on SB Nation. “Seriously, what are you supposed to do when you’re facing Rioux and he’s a solid three feet taller than you are? That’s a rhetorical question, because the only answer is to abandon all hope, give up, and wait for the sweet release of death.”
“Honestly, giant 12-year-old Olivier Rioux, good for you. Looking forward to catching you in the NBA someday, when you’ve finally hit 19 and you’re twenty feet tall,” VICE’s Drew Schwartz wrote.
Interestingly, Olivier has an older brother, Emile, who also plays basketball. He was just 6-foot-4 at age 12, and now, at 15-years-old, he is only 6-foot-9, which make him shorter than his kid brother but still considerably taller than most teens his age.