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 advantage. 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 practice. 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.