How Race and Basketball Interact

November 26, 2010

As the great David Halberstam often observed, the racial politics of professional basketball have always been rather delicate. The sport, after all, sells the talents, style and power of mostly young black men to a largely white audience — and these uncomfortable racial dynamics have a tendency to bubble to the surface in strange ways. This summer, after LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami in a showy power grab, the move unleashed a tsunami of bile. According LeBron, the backlash was at least in part caused by the “race factor,” and it spawned a heated debate about the role of racism in the NBA.  For people looking for some perspective on the issue, ”The Undisputed Guide to Pro Basketball History,” from the people behind the FreeDarko basketball blog, is a great place to start. The book is a collectivist account of the NBA’s racial, labor and cultural reverberations — with occasional jaunts into graphic novel format. “TUGTPBH” co-author Bethlehem Shoals is a primary contributor to FreeDarko, a site with a reputation for thought-provoking takes on the basketball world. Salon spoke to Shoals over the phone, about the LeBron controversy and the changing nature of race in the NBA.

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One Response to “How Race and Basketball Interact”

  1. Lucas S. Says:

    Hello,
    My name is Lucas and I would apprciate any and all comments on my following post.
    My proposed question was, “Why are Blacks Overrepresented in the National Basketball Association (NBA)?” in order for me to effectively answer this question, I used a variety of tools to obtain an answer and the proper facts to prove it. The sources I used to validate my answer were mainly sociological articles that explained the different aspects that were entailed within my proposed research question. I obtained such articles through JSTOR and the John Jay library.

    ​Through my extensive research, I found a number of surprising points that showed why blacks are overrepresented in the NBA. I discovered that a variety of factors are responsible for this. One was that blacks widely have the perception of limited opportunities for themselves. This is caused by incarceration rates, dropout rates, and unemployment rates all of which are also connected to each other.  It was also show that low income families put more emphasis on sports then higher income families do and also that the children in lower income families are more vulnerable to social forces that encourage an overemphasis on sports, regardless of the source of that message: parents, overzealous coaches or teachers, or the generic reinforcements of the media and its glorification of professional athletes.

    ​In my opinion, there are many consequences and implications on the issue of blacks being overrepresented in sports. A few of these are that soon there maybe discussions of reverse discrimination in the NBA due to the overwhelming number of blacks compared to non blacks. A few solutions to this problem could be the construction of sports stadiums should be limited to half of what it is currently. And the money left over from the cut back on funds to professional sports facilities should be put back into after school sports programs in the public school system in order to keep children off the streets. This could potentially reverse dropout rates, incarceration rates and make blacks more aware of the amount of opportunities that are out there for anyone to use to become successful.


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