Anti-Racism Protests in US Basketball

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  • Title: Anti-Racism Protests in US Basketball: Positions of the NBA from Historical, Sociological, and Political Perspectives
  • Author(s): Marloes Ekkelboom
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Sport & Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Sport and Society
  • Keywords: Antidiscrimination, Activism, Racism, Basketball, United States
  • Volume: 15
  • Issue: 1
  • Date: October 24, 2023
  • ISSN: 2152-7857 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2152-7865 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Ekkelboom, Marloes. 2023. "Anti-Racism Protests in US Basketball: Positions of the NBA from Historical, Sociological, and Political Perspectives." The International Journal of Sport and Society 15 (1): 49-71. doi:10.18848/2152-7857/CGP/v15i01/49-71.
  • Extent: 23 pages

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This article explores the positions of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its teams regarding anti-racism protests from historical, sociological, and political perspectives. In the wake of global attention to racism and protests sparked by George Floyd’s death, athletes have increasingly used their platforms to criticize society’s shortcomings. Basketball, particularly the NBA, has played a prominent role in these protests due to its high representation of Black players and its perceived image as a progressive organization regarding political and social engagement. Through a literature-based hermeneutic research approach, the study gathers data from secondary sources such as academic papers, books, reports, articles, and official NBA websites. The historical development of Black basketball, from its origins in the Young Men’s Christian Association to its present-day standing, is examined, showing that the development of “Black” basketball has been instrumental in the current position and importance of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the league. The NBA’s regulations, policies, and initiatives related to diversity, inclusion, and racial justice are analyzed, along with its individual teams’ efforts to combat racism. Despite the NBA’s positive steps, racial disparities persist at the management level within teams, and some clubs still lack explicit diversity values and initiatives. This article concludes that while the NBA has taken significant strides in creating an anti-racist environment, there remains work to be done to eradicate racism entirely. The league’s commitment to anti-racism and social justice is evident, but it is essential for both the NBA and its teams to continue their efforts and create a safe space for anti-racist protests. The study emphasizes the importance of sustained engagement and collective action to drive meaningful and lasting change within US basketball.