April 17, 2015 § Leave a comment
Around the time of the NBA All-Star game, NPR’s sports reporter Tom Goldman wrote me to see if I’d be interested in doing an interview on the relationship between Steph Curry’s rising popularity and the advancing importance of the three-point shot in the NBA. As a related question, I was to consider whether these signify the passing of the torch from LeBron James to Curry. Tom passed on a couple of articles by Darren Rovell and Brian Windhorst that had prompted his thinking.
We talked for about an hour at the time and I shared my perspectives, including my admiration for Curry’s play on the court, which is not only effective but beautiful. But I focused on the deeper factors in the history and culture of basketball that might lead pundits to desire Curry (and the three ball) over LeBron as an emblem for the game and the league, including race and a growing obsession, in all areas of American society, with efficiency. Unfortunately, most of those reflections were left on the cutting room floor due to time constraints. I may share those views in a later post. But for now I wanted to share the interview as it aired this morning on NPR’s morning edition.
You can also see the transcript here.
April 10, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’ve been fortunate to get to expand my repertoire of courses in sports studies over the past few years from Cultures of Basketball to Global Sports Cultures to Writing the Sporting Body. In this time, my colleagues in the Residential College and the Department of Comparative Literature at Michigan have been supportive and for that I feel both fortunate and grateful. But it’s important to emphasize that their support is neither a matter of chance nor of charity. My colleagues are all exceptional scholars and teachers, with rigorous standards for research, pedagogy, and the curriculum. Their support for the courses I’ve been developing has come because—not despite—their intelligence, integrity and commitment to higher education. In other words, these courses exist and flourish because scholars with no special personal interest in athletics per se believe that athletics is a valuable object of study for humanities students. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 7, 2015 § 1 Comment
Over the weekend, the embers of America’s self-righteous disapprobation for Kentucky basketball, tempered briefly by their newly found love-affair with victorious Wisconsin, burst anew into joyful flames of fresh indignation by a couple of post-game incidents. First, a few Kentucky players forgot to shake hands with their opponents after their semi-final loss. But then, and far more thrillingly, Kentucky’s sophomore guard Andrew Harrison unwittingly muttered “Fuck that n***a” under his breath into a hot mic when his teammate was asked a question about Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky, the national college player of the year. A couple of days later, the current incarnation of nostalgic amateur sports fantasy, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, was interviewed after his team lost to Duke for the title. Ryan complained that officiating was unfair to Wisconsin and later referred indirectly to Duke and Kentucky as “rent-a-player” schools. When I heard Bo last night, I wondered rhetorically what fans who’d lambasted Harrison would say about Bo. One of my followers quickly complained “totally different. how can you compare?” I actually agree, though not for the reasons he might have imagined and since I compare for a living, I’ll bite. « Read the rest of this entry »
April 5, 2015 § 4 Comments
I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin and graduated from the University there in 1987 and so many of my friends on Facebook have strong ties to the place and the school. Understandably, then, my feed over the past week has been dominated by pro-Badger statuses, images, and story links, which culminated last night in a euphoric, celebratory extravaganza. I was, in this particular group, the odd one out in rooting for a Kentucky victory, even though I have no ties whatsoever to that state or school; even though in most cases I’d probably find reasons to root against Kentucky. When I expressed this, in a kind of lazy way, some of my friends took issue with my position. So I’m feeling the need to clarify it, maybe most of all to myself. First thing, my fandom is irrational. « Read the rest of this entry »
March 11, 2015 § Leave a comment
I’ve recently completed my book Ball Don’t Lie! Myth, Genealogy and Invention in the Cultures of Basketball, and am now revising it, so stay tuned for updates on the publication timetable. But in the meantime, I’ve also published a few related essays in academic journals. Though the style of writing of these is a bit more formal than what you’ll find in the book, the substance of the arguments is very similar. What I’m sharing today combines elements of the Introduction and Chapter 7 (“The Myth of Blackness, March 12, 1997″) of my book. Just click on the image below.