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Harlem Globetrotters

The Harlem Globetrotters have an impressive history dating from their founding in 1927. At first, the Globetrotters were strictly a professional touring team, barnstorming for years in a fashion reminiscent of certain black baseball teams. As blacks increasingly integrated with collegiate and professional basketball teams, the Harlem Globetrotters changed their playing style to emphasize performance elements clearly intended to entertain. They combined humorous showmanship with extraordinary athletic innovations, using, among other things, "trick" shots, spectacular ball handling, and exaggerated "strategic" plays on the court. Significantly, this innovative approach has had a direct impact on the way the game of basketball has been played in recent decades, with players copying certain Globetrotter techniques and teams adapting aspects of their freer and more fluid style.

 


African Americans in Sports

Struggle and achievement, prejudice, and recognition are the themes that characterize the history of black athletes in American sports. That history parallels and illuminates the arduous course of black Americans in our nation's society from colonial times to the present. The end of slavery did not provide blacks with unblemished opportunities to succeed, even in sports and entertainment, fields of work where individual skill, talent, and character would seem the essential quality for success. Only a relatively few black Americans were able to become visible in these white-dominated activities. But sports opportunities offered the talented blacks more opportunities for stardom than most other channels of work. Despite exclusion and unbridled hostility, blacks gradually enlarged their toehold and earned prominence strictly--and mainly quietly--by perfecting their talents and pursuing their goals with unrelenting determination. Success for contemporary black athletes in America is not without problems, however, for there is little room "at the top" for uncounted millions of black youths who emulate their sports heroes and dream of high salaries or stardom in the big leagues.

 


African Americans in Basketball

Basketball rose to prominence as a collegiate sport in big city schools and rural regions alike. It was a game played by youngsters who learned on city playgrounds or in YMCAs, or youths in small towns where land was plentiful and big teams for other sports were difficult to organize. As a city game, requiring little equipment, basketball attracted youngsters who were able to develop their skills before reaching college-level teams. As black populations increased in cities, black basketball players grew in numbers. Professional basketball emerged later than other team sports--as late as 1949 in fact. However, a black professional team, the Renaissance, barnstormed between 1922 and 1936. The similar, barnstorming Harlem Globetrotters trace their history to 1926.

 

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Geese Ausbie playing in 1985
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Geese Ausbie playing in 1985


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