Butler vs Duke proves white men can jump



I just finished watching the NCAA tournament finals.  This is the first one I’ve watched in years, but I had to make sure I saw this one as I was pulling for Butler University.  Although I’m an alumnus of former basketball powerhouse, Indiana University, I would be supportive of any Hoosier school in the tournament, even the hated arch rival Purdue.  But supporting Butler holds special meaning for me because I literally grew up only blocks away from the campus.  So to see them in the national finals is almost like seeing a bit of my old neighborhood in the finals.  Moreover, the campus is the home of the storied Hinkle fieldhouse , the site of  many a high school basketball city tournament which was a very big deal when I was growing up in Indianapolis. So obviously I’m disappointed at the loss to Duke.  It was one hell of a game and perhaps the best I’ve seen with the exception of the 1987 game between Indiana and Syracuse  when we beat them at the buzzer with a baseline jumper from Keith Smart.

Growing up in Indiana, it wasn’t unusual to see white guys playing some good basketball as some of the small towns could field some pretty good teams.  Of course, you had the teams from the urban areas in the mix also from places like Gary and urban areas in Indianapolis, but fielding a majority black team was certainly no assurance you were going to win.  Winning consistently at basketball takes more than athleticism as that alone without a firm execution of the fundamentals won’t get you far.

So, I pretty much tuned into the game not looking at race of the players so much as hoping that Butler gave Duke a thorough spanking, but apparently I overlooked at historical point on this particular final noted by this article and a few others.  Apparently, there were people taking a headcount and noted that five white starters on the floor between Duke and Butler would be the most white starters in the finals since 1998.

It’s amazing what people measure and how much race is a factor in America.  The same works in reverse–with the Donovan McNabb trade, one invariably will read about the small fraternity of black quarterbacks.  Some might argue that this is not an equivalent as blacks were excluded from that position because it was thought that they didn’t have the necessities to do that job.  But, now it appears that the same question is applied to whites who play basketball.  They’re made to seem out of place and are tagged as slow and un-athletic.  Someone is always bound to shatter any stereotype, so it’s frequently of little use to characterize talents and abilities by race.  Besides, most fans of the game have only two basic concerns–seeing good basketball and their team win. 



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