Hollywood dominates American life. Regional culture is gone, replaced with a monoculture from Los Angeles that governs the entertainment we watch and thus, the opinions we possess. A gatekeeper with such power that the manipulation of minds is but a film away, Hollywood reigns over the culture in an impenetrable citadel of influence no dictator in history could dream of attaining.
The 2006 movie Glory Road is an example of this immense power, as the script for this college basketball film did everything in its power to discredit the basketball played before the introduction of Black players to game:
Glory Road is an American film directed by James Gartner, released on January 13, 2006. The film is based on a true story dealing with the events leading to the 1966 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, in which the late Don Haskins (Josh Lucas), head coach of the Texas Western College (now the University of Texas at El Paso) led a team with an all-black starting lineup, a first in NCAA history.
All good films need villains, and Glory Road has the five white starters from Adolph Rupp’s Kentucky Wildcat squad, who would be vanquished by the conquering starting five (all-Black) of the protagonist Texas Western College. Oh, and Disney created evil villains that attempted to thwart the heroes rise to the title:
In the game between East Texas State University and Texas Western, East Texas State fans are shown throwing popcorn and drinks, and yelling racial epithets. In a later scene, racial slurs are shown painted onto the hotel rooms of the black Texas Western players. After verification that the events never took place, Texas A&M University–Commerce (formerly East Texas State University) asked for an apology from Disney and the makers of the film.
Disney did not directly apologize for the portrayal. Rather, it explained that the movie was not a documentary and that it had been necessary to consolidate events given the time limitations of the movie, and that Disney did not intentionally set out to misrepresent any group and was sorry for any misunderstanding.
Again, movies create false paradigms that become the accepted fact by those ignorant to the actual event and facts surrounding the game. Like the 1 970 Alabama – University of Southern California football won by an integrated Trojan team over the all-white Crimson Tide squad, this basketball game stands as irrefutable proof of the dominance of the Black athlete over the athletically disinclined white person.
“Whatever Happened to the White Athlete?” Sports Illustrated famously asked in a shockingly dishonest cover story in the 1990s. They were usurped by better athletes from a larger population sample would be a logical answer, but Black people were never more than 13 percent of the population from 1960 – to present.
Thus a conundrum appears: if the available pool of eligible participants for college sports includes an overwhelming majority of white athletes (anywhere from 70 – 80 percent of the eligible population of age up until the 1990s and from 55-60 of the pool from then on due to Hispanic immigration), why have Black people come to dominate college basketball and the National Basketball Association by such impressive figures (60 percent Black in the NCAA/ 80 percent in the NBA):
The NBA added its first black players in the 1950-51 season. During the 1960s, more African Americans joined the league. Then in the mid-1970s to early ’80s, the shift from predominantly white to predominantly black took place. Last February, the NBA’s black-player population was 77 percent, while the white-player population was 21 percent. Of the white players, 55 percent were American-born and 45 percent were international players. The NFL, like the NBA, is a sport with a black majority. Yet, according to Lapchick’s most recent report card, the 65 percent black representation in the 2001 season was a four-year low. And the league’s feeder system – Division I college football – was 49.4 percent white and 42.1 percent black in 2000-01. College basketball, like the NBA, reflects the decline in white players. According to the report by Lapchick – himself the son of a white Basketball Hall of Famer – the number of white players at the Division I level in 2000-01 season was 32.5 percent, 2 full percentage points below the 1991-92 numbers.
Basketball, as Bill Simmons points out in his monumental tome The Book of Basketball, is a Black game. Although invented by a white doctor in the 1890s, the game was turned into poetry by Black people, as the ESPN documentary Black Magic would have us believe:
“Black Magic” opens with the details of a secret basketball game played in Durham, N. C., in a locked gym with no fans to witness it. On a Sunday morning in 1944 the innovative African-American coach John McLendon led his fast-breaking team from the North Carolina College for Negroes in a home game against an intramural squad from Duke University’s medical school.
It was illegal. It was dangerous. And the black team won 88-44. “They never saw anyone run up and down the court like we did,” a McLendon player says…If there is joy in “Black Magic,” it is in the dominance of African-American players (if not coaches) in colleges and the pros. Still, if there is regret that black players entered the mainstream, it comes from Clara Gaines. “In the end we just all wish that integration hadn’t taken place,” she says, perhaps venting frustration about her husband’s difficulty in later years in attracting top talent to Winston-Salem. “Because it did change things.”
Black magic is indeed the potion that has driven basketball from the boring days of team basketball and supplanted it the individualistic style of play that dominates the game currently. Or so it would seem.
In the 1980s, Larry Bird saved the National Basketball Association (NBA) from ratings obscurity and neglect as one of the true Great White Hopes single-handily made people care about the game again with his great Boston Celtic teams. Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan helped the resurgent capture fans attention again, but the emergence of Bird brought about hope in every white person that they could dare play in the game that Bird surmised simply as:
But it is a black man’s game, and it will be forever.” — Larry Bird
To watch a college basketball game is to view a sport dominated by young Black people who grew up in a world far removed from that depicted in Glory Road or Black Magic, but more in line with Spike Lee’s 1997 film He Got Game, a movie that shows the fawning of semi-literate Black basketball players who will help lead the team to glory for a season and then split for money and fame in the NBA.
Indeed, many of the top Black athletes opt for skipping college basketball entirely to be drafted in the NBA, seemingly depriving fans of watching top talent mature and dominate at the collegiate level.
In 2009, The Orlando Sentinel published a provocative piece of journalism that analysed the NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen (the final 16 teams out of 65) teams and found a shockingly low number diversity in the starting lineups as white players were noticeably absent:
College basketball teams can thrive with white players.But the odds of a team cutting down the Final Four nets aren’t good if that team is stocked with many white guys, Orlando Sentinel research shows. College basketball at its highest levels is dominated by black players even if the subject makes some people uncomfortable.Look no further than this weekend in Detroit. Only two white players — North Carolina’s Tyler Hansbrough and Michigan State’s Goran Suton — will be listed among the combined 20 starters for the four teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament semifinals. And two teams — Villanova and Connecticut — don’t have a white player on scholarship on this year’s active roster.Michigan State is the only team from this year’s Final Four that signed more than nine white players to scholarships between 1997 and 2008.Recruiting numbers spell it out in black and white: Since the 2000 tournament, 34 of 40 Final Four teams played consistently with no more than one white starter during that particular year. The 2003 Syracuse team, with white starters Gerry McNamara and Craig Forth, was the only one to win a championship.The last championship team to rely on at least three white starters was Duke in 1991, its first of back-to-back championships thanks to Bobby Hurley, Christian Laettner and Billy McCaffrey, who started most of that season.”A lot of garbage,” ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale called the notion of race playing a factor in basketball success.”I’ve never really thought about it like that,” Florida Coach Billy Donovan said.”We don’t talk a lot in the recruiting industry about race,” Rivals.com recruiting analyst Dave Telep said.
Basketball is a Black game, though analyst and coaches are timorous about admitting this simple truth, for the same reason Richard Lapchick constantly bemoans the lack of graduation rates for Black college players when compared to their white counterparts:
The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) at the University of Central Florida released its annual study, “Keeping Score When It Counts: Graduation Rates for 2010 NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament Teams” which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament‐bound teams.
Lapchick noted that “There is again positive academic news for the tournament teams when we examine the GSR and the APR. There was a two percentage point increase for all male student‐athletes to 64 percent. Eighty‐four percent of white and 56 percent of African‐American men’s Division I basketball student‐athletes graduate, increasing six percentage points for white basketball student‐athletes and by two percentage points for African‐American basketball student‐athletes compared to last year’s study.”
Lapchick went on to say, “Nonetheless, the continuing significant disparity between the academic success of African‐American and white men’s basketball student‐athletes is deeply troubling. In fact, the already large gap increased by four percentage points. One of higher education’s greatest failures is the persistent gap between African‐American and white students in general. This is also true for white and African‐American basketball student‐athletes in particular. The gaps continue to widen, even though the actual graduation rates of African‐American basketball student‐athletes are increasing.”
In each of the three years from 1998 through 2000 there was a one percentage point decline in the graduation rate for black men. But for the past four years the graduation rate for black men improved by one percentage point and now stands at 35 percent. Over the past 15 years black men have improved their graduation rate from 28 percent to 35 percent.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities graduate even fewer of their Black male pupils, threatening the academic integrity of the institutions themselves:
An Associated Press analysis of government data on the 83 federally designated four-year historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) shows just 37% of their black students finish a degree within six years. That’s 4 percentage points lower than the national college graduation rate for black students.
One major reason: the struggles of black men. Just 29% of HBCU males complete a bachelor’s degree within six years, the AP found.
Now, keeping Black basketball eligible is a major problem for many colleges, but a greater problem is the shrinking percentage of eligible Black players from the talent pool, as competition from correction and incarceration facilities is threatening to pluck the top recruits from the hardwood for some hard time:
There are more black men in jail in the United States than there are in higher education, a new study has found.
The report, by the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute, says the number of black men behind bars has grown by more than five times in the past 20 years.
According to the study, there were 791,600 black men imprisoned in America in the year 2000, compared to 603,032 enrolled in college or university.
It is lamentable that so many Black males choose violence and crime over basketball, though Jeff Benedict’s book Out of bounds: inside the NBA’s culture of rape, violence, and crime points out that many Black players find a perfect equilibrium (as does Gilbert Arenas).
Which brings us to the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament and the mindless March Madness happening across the nation. A strange sight has been viewed by millions, as teams starting majority white rosters are performing at a team level far out-pacing the individualistic mindset perfected by Black players on the courts of ghettos across the land.
Northern Iowa, Purdue, St. Mary, Duke and Cornell boast teams that have three, four and five white players on the court at any given time, far outpacing the numbers noticed by The Orlando Sentinel for the past 10 years of NCAA Tournament racial participation.
Even Baylor made the Sweet Sixteen thanks to the heroic efforts of a “big, tall goofy white guy” – Josh Lomers.
Butler also made the Sweet Sixteen, and they have a team comprised of many white players who see action on the court.
Earlier this year, a promoter made headlines when he stated a white’s only basketball should form:
According to the Chronicle, Lewis said he wants to emphasize “fundamental basketball” instead of “street ball” played by “people of color.” “There’s nothing hatred about what we’re doing,” Lewis told the paper. “I don’t hate anyone of color.” Lewis pointed out recent incidents in the NBA, including Gilbert Arenas’ suspension for bringing a gun into the Washington Wizards locker room, and said, “Would you want to go to the game and worry about a player flipping you off or attacking you in the stands or grabbing their crotch?”
Watching the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament, a resurgence of white basketball is obvious and a near unavoidable topic for any fan whose eyes can discern the dramatic difference in style that say Duke or St. Mary’s utilize for victory than does a Xavier, Kentucky, Ohio State or West Virginia (hint, those teams play nearly all-Black players).
Basketball is an improvisational game, where quick decisions dictate the pace of the game, and Black players excel at this individualistic style:
White coaches long resisted their black players’ ability to make it up as they went along. Yet, “playground jungle ball” eventually routed predictable white-style basketball. Obviously, the occasional Larry Bird or John Stockton show that some whites can master the black game. Still, whites seem less often able to meet modern basketball’s demands for creative improvisation and on-the-fly interpersonal decision-making. As Thomas Sowell notes, “To be an outstanding basketball player means to out-think opponents consistently in these split-second decisions under stress.” Beyond basketball, these black mental superiorities in “real time” responsiveness also contribute to black dominance in jazz, running with the football, rap, dance, trash talking, preaching, and oratory. Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, improvised the immortal conclusion to his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Oddly, the 2010 Sweet Sixteen features a shocking number of teams utilizing the white-brand of basketball where a large number of passes are incorporated into the offense scheme to garner the highest percentage shot, like the movie Hoosiers depicts (a movie about an all-white basketball team in Pre-Obama America, which plays as virtual science-fiction now) :
Q.What did you think of “Hoosiers?” Seems like some people want history to be an episode of “Friends,” or go the other way and are overly sensitive about whether black folks will think a movie like “Hoosiers” is racist or willfully ignorant of the bigotry of the times, ’50s Indiana, the same decade when Oscar Robertson and the Indiana state championship Crispus Attucks high school team of Indianapolis also had a compelling, parallel story, as yet to be told. Isn’t that the key; if both stories are told, isn’t there balance? A. Spike Lee: I’ll say this … I definitely had an uncomfortable feeling about that film as I was watching it. I didn’t stop to analyze why I had the feeling, and haven’t since. But it was there. At the same time, Gene Hackman gives a great performance in that movie.
Watching the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the oddity of seeing white players excel as a team, as a unit and dismantle “superior” athletes is shocking, but reminds us of the line uttered by Gene Hackman in Hoosiers:
Coach Norman Dale: Five players on the floor functioning as one single unit: team, team, team – no one more important that the other.
Though they might not make the NBA, these white players are propelling their teams to levels of basketball not seen since the days before Black Magic took over. Oddly, the same school that once featured an all-white starting lineup Kentucky – that was featured in the film Glory Road- now has an all-Black starting roster and a near all-Black team.
Fitting irony that in 2010, Kentucky could face a near all-white roster (and will in its Sweet Sixteen game with Cornell) for the championship. Will a similar movie be made by the powers that be like Glory Road, a film that canonizes the efforts of five Black players to vanquish the evil all-white Kentucky squad?
Stuff Black people Don’t Like includes the 2010 NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen, for the 16 teams competing for the title are no longer bereft of white players and showcase a surprising number of teams playing white basketball. Five players, one unit, one team.
However, like Toby Gerhart, other teams with white players are making major headway deploying the old-fashioned concept of team basketball. Larry Bird stated basketball needs white stars to survive, and the 2010 NCAA Basketball Tournament is supplying his desire with plenty of team basketball.
A white league isn’t necessary. White players and the school’s they compete for are dominating the NCAA Tournament. They might not win the title, but chances are, they will graduate.
March Madness indeed.