How Basketball Has Changed The World Essay Example


The game of basketball is an exceptionally popular sport all around the world and particularly in America. In 1891, James Naismith invented the game, as he was asked to invent an indoor sport and came up with the idea of basketball. In 1946, basketball started having a huge impact on the world as the NBA was officially founded. Throughout the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, basketball was used as a tool for African American individuals to expand their rights and ultimately desegregate America. This proved that basketball is much more than a game and can impact lives in ways that are unimaginable and truly incredible. Throughout the rocky road of racial barriers in America, the game of basketball has impacted the way people see race over the course of the twentieth and twenty first century because it has provided an opportunity for African Americans to voice themselves by receiving athletic scholarships, playing on desegregated teams, and proving their abilities through winning championships.

During the 1950s and 60s, the Civil Rights Movement was astir, as protests, speeches and much more took place to stand up for the rights of black individuals. The Civil Rights movement was caused in many ways because of colleges, as educated leaders and professionals were more aware of the obstacles that African Americans faced rather than the oppressed people (Brinkley 698). Because colleges were a part in starting the Civil Rights Movement, it was easy for college athletes to use their local fame to prove themselves and prove that African American student athletes could perform on the same level or to an even greater level than the white student athletes.Through these times in the Civil Rights Movement, “Television and other forms of popular culture also played a role in the rising consciousness of racism” (Brinkley 698). The game of basketball fell into this category, as games were broadcasted and African Americans were able to prove their abilities and their worth to society in the form of athletics. By having basketball broadcasted, the black players who proved themselves showed the world that their race should be treated the same as any other race, as they had no less value then anybody else. Marches and protests that supported the Civil Rights Movement were also broadcasted, inspiring others to stand up for the rights of African Americans.

Throughout this time of racial tension, basketball as a sport was becoming extremely popular and the rules and regulations were changed which made it the popular sport it is today.

Throughout the 1950s, the rules and regulations of basketball were transforming into the incredibly popular game it is now. Some of these changes include playing with the iconic orange ball that is used in the game nowadays. Throughout the solidification of the regulations of basketball, “Dribbling only became a major part of the game around the 1950s, as manufacturing improved the ball shape” (Los Angeles Mission College). All of these reformations of the game brought the game to where it is now, as dribbling the basketball started to become popular in the 1950s. Now dribbling is now a key component of the game that players work on relentlessly so they can have the best edge in competitions. The BBA and the NBA were officially founded in 1946, which inspired new generations of talented players, as Julius Erving and many other talented players started arising and inspiring young stars to play (Los Angeles Mission College). By having players to look up to such as Julius Erving, who would glide through the air for incredible dunks, kids would look up to these players as idles, as they wanted to do and perform the same as them.

By receiving athletic scholarships, African Americans were able to have an opportunity to prove their capabilities that many of them did not previously have. When talking about the players he had recruited, coach Don Haskins stated, “To me they were just kids in white-and-orange uniforms. Not white guys, not black guys, just Miners” (Haskins 119).

This shows the pure “colorblind” attitude that Don Haskins showed and was later admired for. He cared about who was the best player on the court, not who was black and who was white. By having these actions, Haskins led by example for many people in a time that race was a huge controversy. By doing the simple action of seeing people by skill and not by color, Haskins opened many eyes to believe that the racial barrier could be something useless. When describing North Carolina’s recruits during this time such as Jimmy Walker, “Walker went on to be an All American at Providence College, an NBA star, and eventually the estranged father of Michigan Fab Fiver Jalen Rose'' (Chansky 36).This shows that all of the nervousness and trouble that went into making the decision to recruit black players was ridiculous in the end, as players like Jimmy Walker proved himself to be an outstanding player who should not be thought twice about in recruiting. This opened up many doors for other colleges to start recruiting black players. By leading by example, UNC was able to make a movement for black student athletes to be recruited, as soon after UNC made these offers, many other schools followed their lead in recruitment and scholarships among black individuals.

By being able to play on desegregated teams, African Americans were able to destroy racial boundaries and represent their race through playing basketball with white players. When describing Charlie Scott, Art Chansky writes,“He's proved that blacks and whites can work together as a team. He's proved once again that in sports . . . you’re judged by what you do, not who you are” (Chansky 117). This shows that Charlie Scott had a real impact on erasing the color barrier through proving he can play with the best, whether black or white. Charlie took away the perspective on race in the game of basketball, which was incredibly powerful towards times where African Americans were fighting for their rights. When talking about Texas Western starting an all black lineup, Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson said, “What a piece of history. If basketball ever took a turn, that was it” (Fitzpatrick). This quote truly shows that others recognized the significance of Texas Western’s desegregated team and all black starting lineup. This instance showed that coach Don Haskins wanted to play the most talented players, whether it meant all black, all white, or mixed. This showed the world that a segregated world was completely useless and unnecessary.

Through winning championships, black basketball players were proving that their race was equal to white people and that should be treated equally as well. When talking about winning the college basketball national championship, coach Don Haskins wrote, “[The national championship was] the linchpin moment that broke racial barriers for good. I always laughed at that. It was only big because we won” (Haskins 120). This quote from coach Don Haskins shows that by performing and exceeding expectations, the Texas Western team was able to break separation of race. People saw this desegregated team become so successful, and therefore changed people’s views on the way race should be handled in America. After winning the state championship in Indiana, “The Attucks story is above all a ringing example of the powerful and undervalued contributions young people have made to U.S. history” (Hoose 178). In the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, by winning the State Championship, Crispus Attucks High School proved that African Americans deserve to have the same opportunities as white people, as they persevered and shocked many people in their victory. By winning the championship during these times of racial tensions, these young men not only represented their school, but their entire race, which truly shows the power of basketball in this time of racial distress in America.

All of these events prove that through basketball, racial tensions were broken and the sport itself provided an opportunity for black athletes to prove that African Americans are equal to white people and can achieve some extraordinary things. It is obvious that racial justice is incredibly important for the world, as America is still struggling with these issues, but the fact that there were outlets such as basketball for people to express the injustices in race through the beautiful game is an incredible thing that should not be looked over. This outlet to social justice in basketball has not ended, as the NBA and the NCAA have made a huge impact on the Black Lives Matter movement. They both put social justice messages on the back of their jerseys. They have also voiced themselves by taking a knee during the national anthem and in the NBA, they even went on a boycott, not playing any games to show the world how serious the movement was to them. They were willing to stop doing their job, stop doing what they love to stand up for the movement.

In the end, basketball has proven to be much more than just a game or a source of entertainment.  Throughout the past couple centuries, basketball has proven to make a huge impact on how people view racial tension in America because it has provided an opportunity for African Americans to prove themselves by receiving athletic scholarships, playing on desegregated teams, and showing their abilities by winning championships. All of these things show that the world cares about expressing talents and validating oneself to gain rights and respect. By gaining achievements, society has been adapting more to black citizens having rights, as if they are able to contribute substantially to the world, they should at least have rights so they can provide for others.

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