The Multiculturalism Movement & Basketball

by Dr. U.R. Short, Dr. I.M. Slow, and Dr. I.S. Tungincheek. From Eagle Forum on 11/13/96

     It is important to recognize that most basketball teams are
     comprised of players of differing backgrounds, orientations, and
     abilities. The underlying effort in this essay is to identify some
     of those differences and to suggest procedures designed to protect
     players from various forms of discrimination particularly as
     related to players' height, speed, and shooting ability.
     Basketball is a game fraught with unfair practices. Several
     examples of discrimination related to basketball are addressed in
     this article.
     One of the most egregious and obvious discriminatory practices
     seen in the game of basketball today is, of course, the height of
     the basket, the so-called "glass ceiling." It is totally
     insensitive to have the height of the basketball goals at ten
     feet. How can anyone give credence to the notion that a vertically
     challenged player can compete on an equal footing with a player
     who may have a foot or more vertical advantage. In fact, they may
     have had that advantage for many years, with the strong likelihood
     that the player's parents (at least one) also had the same
     Most vertically disadvantaged players trace their ancestry back to
     the country of Guardvilla. It's a simple fact: most
     Guardvillian-Americans are vertically disadvantaged. It's not
     their fault. It was simply the result of genetic endowment. In
     every other way, they are just like everyone else. What is unfair
     though is that they are asked to shoot for the same goals as the
     vertically advantaged Forwardian-Americans and
     Centerian-Americans. While it is often the case that
     Guardvillian-Americans have an advantage over the speed-challenged
     and sometimes shooting-challenged characteristics of
     Forwardian-Americans and Centerian-Americans, that still does not
     justify the "glass ceiling" foisted upon the
     Guardvillian-Americans. What does seem logical and appropriate, in
     order to create fairness in this regard, is to have two baskets at
     each end of the court thus taking into account the height
     differences. The Guardvillian-Americans would shoot at a basket
     eight feet high, and the Forwardian-Americans and
     Centerian-Americans would shoot at the traditional goal (10').
     While such a change may have some immediate impact on game play,
     strategy, etc., over time, the fairness that would certainly
     emanate would make the modifications totally justifiable. Some may
     complain that there will be additional costs for the equipment
     needed. However, it is almost certain that federal funds would
     become available for this kind of equal opportunity effort.
     If one pays close attention to the strategies employed by many
     "Good Ol' Boy & Girl" coaches involved in basketball today, it
     will be noted that they often purposely scheme to get what they
     call "advantage matchups." It should be perfectly clear that this
     is nothing more than a calculated creation of an unfair situation.
     The rules should be adjusted so that the second such a tactic is
     employed, the vertically disadvantaged, or speed disadvantaged
     player should immediately point out this violation.
     The attending official should then "blow the whistle" and apply
     the appropriate penalty. The consequence of this foul act could
     be, for example, providing a free throw from a distance of ten
     feet as opposed to the traditional fifteen feet.
     The comments above are directed at but a few of the many unfair
     practices rampant in basketball today. Unfortunately, space does
     not provide the opportunity to consider all of the injustices.
     However, one other travesty must be mentioned. That some coaches
     still allow inter-team scrimmaging between shirt advantaged
     players and shirt disadvantaged players is simply unconscionable.
     With the emphasis most people are placing on political correctness
     today, the fact that the practice of "shirts against skins" still
     exists is simply mind boggling. It should be pointed out, much to
     their credit, that female coaches never have supported this
     The time to make basketball an equal opportunity sport for all
     participants is long overdue. Playing basketball should not be
     based on one's speed, height or shooting advantages; rather, it
     should be based on a participant's desire to share in the point
     distribution. It's bad enough that one team is dubbed "loser."
     Such terminology should be eventually changed to "temporarily win
     challenged." Please help to rid the game of basketball of
     multicultural biases.
     R. Thomas Trimble, Ph.D., author of this satire, recently retired
     from the University of Georgia.

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