Basketball was invented by the Canadian-American physician, educator, and clergyman James Naismith in December 1891, who was then an instructor at the Young Men’s Christian Association Training School in Springfield, Massachusetts. The game of basketball being played by both men and women rapidly spread around America and Canada, as well as in other parts of the world. Because of its attractiveness as an informal outdoor game, servicemen of the United States all through the World War II played and introduced the sport in numerous countries.
Between 1893 and 1895, many colleges in the United States adopted the game, and for the first time in 1934, college games were played in New York City’s Madison Square Garden, therefore attracting much interest in college basketball. By the 1950s, basketball had developed into a major college sport, leading the way for the escalation of interest in and, consequently, development of professional basketball in 1898 by the National Basketball League. By 1960s, professional teams from every State played before millions of crowds annually.
Since the 1980s the National Basketball Association, successor of the NBL, has become one of the most well-liked sports organizations in the world, relatively on account of the marketability of several remarkable star players, most notably the African-American descents like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. Discrimination of African-American in College Basketball Leagues During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, competitive sports were greatly recognized in the United States.
Although basketball, unlike in baseball, hockey, and football, was an urban sport played by a diverse population on every level, African-American players were excluded (Parks, Quarterman, & Thibault, 2007, p. 99). Because of the popularity of basketball, the American Basketball Association was organized in 1925 and as expected no African-Americans were allowed to join. The case was also true for the Basketball Association of America, which was organized in 1946.
Up until 1950, universities and colleges, mainly in the South side of the United States, were prohibited to have a team sport composed of black and white players in view of the Jim Crow Laws. Nevertheless, a number of predominant white universities in the North side of the country did utilize African-Americans on their basketball teams. Some examples were William King of Long Island University, Lawrence Bleach of Detroit University, and Ben Franklin and Bob Yancy of Boston University. Jim Crow Laws
Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, in the South side of the United States, it was not unusual for whites and blacks to make use of the same public facilities. However, Supreme Court decisions started to strip away the accomplishments of the Reconstruction movement. Following the American Civil War, most States in South passed state and local anti-African legislation, which were eventually recognized as Jim Crow laws. This included laws that discriminated against African-Americans with regards to public schools attendance and the use of facilities such as public baths, cinemas, hotels, theaters and restaurants.
Jim Crow was more than a series of unyielding anti-Black laws, as it was at the time considered a lifestyle. Eventually, however, in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education case, the Supreme Court of the United States declared State-sponsored school segregation as unconstitutional, and the remaining Jim Crow laws were generally overruled by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Miller, & Wiggins, 2004, p. 236). Integration of African-Americans in Professional Basketball
Prior to the integration of any of the major sport leagues, the National Basketball League already welcomed African-American players that, as a result, forever changed the games. Most followers of the sport may not even be aware of the African-American players and the National Basketball League’s ground-breaking undertakings given that the integration in the NBL and professional basketball in general came with much less elaboration and fewer setbacks than it did in other major sports.
In 1942, the National Basketball League, a forerunner to the National Basketball Association, became the first major professional basketball league of the contemporary period to integrate (Parks, Quarterman, & Thibault, 2007, p. 99). Integration of African-American in basketball came 16 years before Willie O’Ree skated for the National Hockey League’s Boston Bruins, five years before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, and four years before Kenny Washington played football for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (Miller, & Wiggins, 2004, p. 235).
Unlike professional hockey, football, and baseball, basketball did not integrate a single black player, seeing that during the 1942-1943 season, the National Basketball League integrated 10 African-American players for the two of the league’s teams, namely the Chicago Studebakers and the Toledo Jim White Chevrolets. Bill Jones, a college star-player at the University of Toledo, and one of the last living African-American players from that period, played four games for the Chevrolets.
Jones, together with his fellow African-American teammates, Casey Jones, Al Price, and Shanty Barnett, made an immediate impression on the league, introducing some much-needed athleticism and speed to the game. The effect of African-American players to the game, by virtue of their skill, was instantly felt by the fans and other players. In 1943, the National Basketball League’s Cleveland franchise acquired African-American players, and by the same year blacks were playing in such cities as Youngstown, Rochester, and Tri-Cities.
Eventually, in 1948 the Dayton team as well integrated. Notwithstanding their pioneering endeavors, both the Toledo and Studebakers disbanded. Nevertheless, the National Basketball League’s contribution to the integration of basketball continued all the way through the league’s final season in 1948-49. Nevertheless, it was not until the 1946-47 season that African-American players joined the league in appreciable numbers.
The Rochester Royals, behind owner Les Harrison, acquired former Long Island University star Dolly King, the Tri-Cities Blackhawks signed the Harlem Renaissance star William “Pop” Gates, and Youngstown acquired the versatile Bill Farrow. Eventually, the Dayton Rens, coached by Gates, became the first all-African-American team to ever participate in a white dominated professional league. In 1965, Texas Western University with a team exclusively composed of African-American players, won the Division I NCAA Championship.
It was the first time in an NCAA title game that an all-Black team played an all-white team (Miller, & Wiggins, 2004, p. 244). Integration and Popularity of African-American in the NBA Although 80 percent of the current National Basketball Association players are African-American, yet in the first half of the 20th century professional basketball was contaminated by acts of racism, keeping numerous talented African-American off the courts.
Originally, every team in the NBA was made up of entirely Caucasian players, but the 1950’s opened several significant changes for African-Americans in the world of basketball. Chuck Cooper became the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association, and from 1950 to 1960, the professional league witnessed the arrivals of Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell (Miller, & Wiggins, 2004, p. 235). The aforesaid players started the ball rolling for Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and now Kobe Bryant and Lebron James.
In a period of 50 years, American professional basketball started out from 100 percent down to only 16 percent European-American players, and today, African-American dominated the rosters of the National Basketball Association. In part this trend of professional basketball rosters can be attributed to the ways in which African-American players bring to the game. In 1996, the National Basketball Association named its all time fifty greatest players, composing of 31 African-American and 18 European-American. In 2001, the Basketball Hall of Fame included 34 African-Americans out of the 113 inductees.
To a number of fans and many in the media today, the appeal of basketball is tied up with admiring concept of African-American life. Conclusion Basketball is a team competition that has been changed by the presence of African-American, and is now becoming a significant lightning-rod of social, political and cultural change in the United States for over a century. Although the power and grace of Black athleticism has now achieved the high regard and approval of the world, yet for years it was forced to stay on the bench, as segregation in America were severely grounded on race.
Like other areas of society, African-Americans’ struggle to be admitted into the world of professional basketball revealed the discriminatory policies and segregated practices of the time. The history of American basketball reveals a compelling chronicle regarding athletic competition in a nation struggling to live up to its principles of democracy and equality. The professional league was without doubt forward thinking and ahead of its time in the utilization and integration of African-American basketball players.
Even so, African-American pioneering players have squarely fortified the impact brought by the National Basketball League. People may not appropriately recognize the effects of their undertaking today given that very little recognition has been attributed to the pioneering players of the National Basketball League. Accordingly, African-Americans have changed the National Basketball Association and the manner the game is played today. Collectively African-American players helped bring new confidence, excitement, and energy to professional basketball.
The integration is, without doubt, an indicator of the social, political and cultural maturity in the United States. Speech Presentation During the 1950s, basketball had developed into a major sport, leading the way for the intensification of interest in the game. The game of basketball, unlike in baseball, hockey, and football, was an urban sport played by a diverse population on every level; nevertheless, African-American players were excluded. Universities and colleges, mainly in the South side of the United States, were prohibited to have a team sport composed of black and white players in view of the Jim Crow Laws.
In 1942, the National Basketball League, a forerunner to the National Basketball Association, became the first major professional basketball league to integrate. The professional league was forward thinking and ahead of its time in the employment and integration of African-American basketball players. Unlike professional hockey, football, and baseball, basketball did not integrate a single black player, seeing that during the 1942-43 season, the National Basketball League integrated 10 African-American players. The effect of African-American players to the game, by virtue of their skill, was instantly felt by the fans and other players.
Chuck Cooper became the first African-American to play in the National Basketball Association, and from 1950 to 1960, the professional league witnessed the arrivals of Elgin Baylor, Oscar Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, and Bill Russell. The aforesaid players started the ball rolling for Magic Johnson, Karl Malone, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and now Kobe Bryant and Lebron James. Although the power and grace of Black athleticism has now achieved the high regard and approval of the world, yet for years it was forced to stay on the bench.
Like other areas of society, the African-Americans’ struggle to be admitted into the world of professional basketball revealed the discriminatory policies and segregated practices of the time. Without a doubt, the history of American basketball reveals a compelling chronicle concerning athletic competition in a nation struggling to live up to its principles of democracy and equality.
Miller, P. B. , & Wiggins, D. (2004). Sport and the color line: black athletes and race relations in twentieth-century America. New York: Routledge. Parks, J. B. , Quarterman, J. , & Thibault, L. (2007). Contemporary sport management. Human Kinetics.
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