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The myth of the hungry NBA inner-city product

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by Dick Whitman, Nov 3, 2013.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    Black kids born into poverty are actually less likely to make the NBA, not more:


    From 1960 to 1990, nearly half of blacks were born to unmarried parents. I would estimate that during this period roughly twice as many black N.B.A. players were born to married parents as unmarried parents. In other words, for every LeBron James, there was a Michael Jordan, born to a middle-class, two-parent family in Brooklyn, and a Chris Paul, the second son of middle-class parents in Lewisville, N.C., who joined Mr. Paul on an episode of “Family Feud” in 2011.

    These results push back against the stereotype of a basketball player driven by an intense desire to escape poverty.

    I don't think these results would surprise a ton of people on this board, who are savvy about sports. I do think that they would shock the majority of the general public.
  2. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    1974 called. It wants its stereotype back.
  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Good article. This part was especially interesting:

    The second relevant advantage of a relatively prosperous upbringing is height. The economist Robert W. Fogel has demonstrated the impact of improved early life nutrition on adult height over successive generations. Poor children in contemporary America still have substandard nutrition, holding back their development. They have higher infant mortality rates and lower average birth weights, and recent research has found that poverty in modern America inhibits height. In basketball, the importance of every inch is enormous. I estimate that each additional inch almost doubles your chances of making the N.B.A.

    The N.B.A.’s changing demographics may also reflect the advantages of growing prosperity. Even casual fans will have noticed the difference the past 30 years have made: In 1980, fewer than 2 percent of N.B.A. players were foreign-born; now more than 20 percent are.

    Much of this is surely because of the increased international popularity of basketball. In 1992, a 14-year-old German, Dirk Nowitzki, watched the American team starring Mr. Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson win a gold medal in the Barcelona Olympics. Mr. Nowitzki, a childhood tennis and handball star, decided he wanted to become a basketball player. But there is a somewhat surprising factor that may also be contributing to the game’s internationalization: Foreign countries are producing taller men.
  4. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    We've mythologized the tough inner-city upbringing in order to justify policies that comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted.

    "See, we're actually helping them!"

    See also: The "Magic Negro" trope.
  5. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    SportsJournalists.com Mad Libs HOFer:

  6. KJIM

    KJIM Well-Known Member

    Really? I can't think of a single person I know who would be shocked about this.
  7. I Should Coco

    I Should Coco Well-Known Member

  8. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    As much as anything it probably reflects that basketball too is becoming a travel-team sport all the way down through grade school, and the people more likely to be able to afford that are the decently well-off.

    The kids who do nothing but play on the schoolyards all the way through grade school get cut in junior high, because they haven't been playing travel ball.
  9. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    Bullshit. Making it in any sport is a long shot. It's like the number of sports writers who are able to make it to major metro newspapers.
  10. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Considering what is usually involved for kids to play AAU hoops for a couple summers, which is obviously not mandatory, but is pretty damn important if you're going to be an elite recruit, I think we're seeing a lot of basketball players coming out of wealthier (upper middle class and higher) than a lot of people think.

    Obviously, there are some who still fit the Dr. J/Isiah Thomas stereotype, but a lot more who don't...
  11. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    You could say the same thing about baseball and football. The travel teams seem to be the ticket for some.
  12. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Do they have traveling teams for football? I think that's more for baseball and basketball. Football is more about going to the right camp.
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