Friday, March 25, 2011

A Short History of Race & Basketball

Photo Credit: GonchoA
Doug Morlino has written the first segment of what I'm sure will be a fascinating series on the history of race and basketball. His post, entitled LeBron James Back to James Naismith: A History of Race and Basketball and published on the Bleacher Report, examines the relationship between black and white players and the role that basketball has played in helping racial progress within the United States. He also touches on the influence that Christianity played in the early origins of the sport.

Morlino traces his youth in Seattle and how his views on race were influenced through his time on the court. He says:
"It also made me question the origins of many of the assumptions I’d held about sports.

Why, I wondered, was the basketball court seen as such an ideal place to mix kids from different backgrounds? Why did I grow up as seeing success on the court as reflecting my own sense of achievement and manhood? And why and how did basketball come to be viewed as a quintessentially "black" sport?

The effort to answer those questions led me back into basketball’s history, which was more complex and fascinating than I’d imagined.

I started to see connections between how early decisions in the game’s development still echo in what we see on the court today, from Blake Griffin’s monster dunks to Phil Jackson’s coaching style. I also found that the history of what’s happened on the basketball court has very closely mirrored that of race relations in the United States, and often preceded changes off of it."
I'm often asked how I came to be so interested in black culture and how my friendships with African Americans developed over the years. Initially, it was due in large part to the time I spent with African Americans on the basketball court during my youth growing up outside of Detroit. I am looking forward to reading more of Morlino's story in the rest of these articles (a planned eight-part series) and how the game of basketball came to be what it is today.

(h/t to AOL Black Voices)

1 comment:

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