Black guys can jump, but White guys can’t.

Can white men not jump? Of course they can, but this is an ongoing joke in our society that they can’t jump and that Black, African American, men have more stamina to jump successfully. The whole “jumping” action goes far beyond physical capabilities and touches upon which race is actually better at the sport. In Casey Gane-McCalla’s article, “Athletic Blacks vs. Smart Whites”, he explores the stereotypes that encompass basketball with reporting how Black athletes are usually not given credit for there athleticism because they are seen to have it “naturally”, that their skills are innate. That these Black men did not work as hard as the White men might have worked. Black men are seen as already gifted, and that’s why they play the sport well, but White men work hard to get good at the sport. This also leads to Black men having to live up to these expectations, that they have to be the better player because they have the innate abilities. This also effects them in the real world as well, McCalla say’s that people will view Black men as having the easy way, and White men being the hardworking. McCalla continues to argue that biological factors to not help or hurt a player’s performance, but cultural factors do, he says due to basketball being an important part of African-American culture many African-Americans come into the NBA.

Aside from racial stereotypes in the sport there is also the theory that if you’re tall you can play well. This isn’t always the case, you can be as tall as the empire state building but if you can’t grasp the fundamentals of the sport there isn’t a high chance you’re going in the hall of fame. Joe Kozlowski talks about how this stereotype and others may lead to a larger discrimination off the court, in his article “Talking Points: Stereotyping Sports”. In a 60-minute interview with Jeremy Lin, an Asian-American NBA player, Kozlowski informs us that he was an “all-state California high school player”, and a “two-time all-Ivy League player” at Harvard, but was undrafted. When looking back at his career, “Lin said, ‘Well, I think the obvious thing in my mind is that I was Asian-American, which, you know, is a whole different issue but … I think that was a barrier’” (Kozolwski).

Due to these many stereotypes, which many aren’t correct, they affect the overall players in their own lives and not only the culture that surrounds it. In basketball, there are a handful of stereotypes that surround the players, they aren’t much different from other sports but they still affect the culture of the sport and how successful you can become within it. Looking back at myself and the actions I take as I watch a game, I notice that I do count on the Black athletes to bring the team back up to par. This is neither healthy for me nor the athletes, because as we said in class, these are extreme high expectations that no one is able to reach.

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One Response to Black guys can jump, but White guys can’t.

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    You mention quite a number of disturbing examples of how racist thoughts affect our interpretation of African American players’ abilities, and I’d like to hear a bit more on how and why you think such stereotypes exist. You talk about this, but at times I have trouble distinguishing what you think from the arguments you present from other sources. What do you think about these stereotypes? How do racial expectations affect the cultural politics of basketball?

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