Social Stratification:race Essay, Research Paper
Reaction Paper on Social Stratification
Halberstam, David. “The Myths and Realities of Blacks in Professional Basketball.” Sport in Contemporary: An Anthology. Edited by D. Stanley Eitzen. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989, 315-323.
The article primarily talks about one individual throughout the article. The individual talked about is legendary Lenny Wilkens. David Halberstam, author of “The Myths and Realities of Blacks in Professional Basketball”, discusses Lenny Wilkens’ playing career and coaching career. Early in his coaching career, he was the head coach of the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA for a couple of years. After his second year, he was fired by Larry Weinberg. Wilkens felt that Weinberg did not know the sport of basketball but was simply a businessman. Wilkens thought he was fired because he was black.
Wilkens is a well-regarded coach in the NBA, now “One of the main reasons he had decided to coach was to show by his own personal example and conduct, the difference between stereotype and reality, what a black was and what he could do” (316).
There were a number of myths in the post that were later changed those myths. In the 40s and 50s, one myth about blacks was “that blacks lacked guts and were never tough in the clutch” (316). This myth was fueled by one incident where a black pitcher lost a World Series baseball game by giving up a late game homerun. But in the mid-1960s that myth was dismissed by more blacks making last second shots in basketball, and wide receivers catching late touchdowns in football.
Another myth about blacks is their disability to coach. Many whites began to accept that blacks could play basketball that they were good at it. But the whites thought blacks just were born with the gift and instincts of the game of basketball. But whites questioned their ability to analyze the Xs and Os of the game.
The article began to talk about Dennis Johnson, a player under Lenny Wilkens. It discussed how Wilkens handled DJ. “He [Wilkens] saw himself, quite rightly, as a pioneer both in race relations and in changing the labor laws that made it possible for young players to negotiate huge salaries” (320).
When black players started entering the league, there was racism. Many white players were verbal about it, and some were not. The jokes turned around in the 1960s. Since more and more blacks were entering the league, they became more accepted. Then “the jokes were about whether white centers could dunk the ball” (322).