Amateur Racism

NBA basketball, well all basketball, well, really, all sports are not what a metaphysical philosopher would call “important”. University of Michigan* professor Yago Colas’ deconstructing criticism of LeBron James to reveal the inherent class and racial biases in perceptions of modern basketball is important. You don’t need to care about the NBA or LeBron James to need to read this post. You simply need to care about how our cultural idioms reinforces social inequality – and, if you don’t care about those things…WOW:

Referring to the athlete who plays for the love of the sport, the concept [ameteurism] came to imply…the amateur is motivated by rewards intrinsic to the sport, rather than by extrinsic rewards such as fame or money…This effectively kept working class athletes, who had neither the resources nor the leisure time, from challenging upper-class domination of sport so that, in effect, amateurism “established a system of ‘sports apartheid’ with white males from the upper classes enjoying the advantages.”

Because the amateur ideal took root in basketball culture while the sport was still segregated, the values came unconsciously to be associated with whiteness.
Yago Colas, “On LeBron James and Coaching”

I also thoroughly endorse Yago’s suggestion that LeBron become the first player-coach-owner in forever.

*It take a lot for me to say nice things about the State Up North. GO BUCKS!!!


16280779113_1f69bb9871_oLast week I posted this photo of an animation that was used regularly during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and asked you to divine which of the multiple problems* bothered me so much. I think I’ve left you on pins and needles long enough. Continue reading “Nuttier”


This graphic that they have been using regularly during the NCAA tournament (and I’ve seen it on other CBS Sports) broadcasts drives me nuts.16280779113_1f69bb9871_o

Can you figure out why?

*No, it is not that I hate Maryland. In fact, I bear then no ill will at all, now that they are no longer in the ACC to muck things up for my Blue Devils. Go Duke!

Math Madness #3: Jump Shots and Expectation

For those of you who do not embrace, much less embody, stereotypical geek indifference to athletics, you may have noticed that it is NCAA basketball tournament time. In fact, the final game between the Kansas and Kentucky is just about to tip-off. Living in the UK, I haven’t watched much college basketball this season, but I’m picking Kentucky in a close one.

Let me tell you why. Continue reading “Math Madness #3: Jump Shots and Expectation”

Math Madness #2: The “Jinx” & The “Choke”

During their 2009 game against Villanova, Duke guard John Scheyer was getting ready to take his fifth foul shot of the game. He’d made all four previous attempts. Announcer Verne Lundquist made reference to Scheyer’s high career free throw success rate (86%). Scheyer missed the shot, causing Lundquist to publicly flagellate himself for jinxing Scheyer.

Scheyer was one of the best foul shooters to ever play for Duke (3rd best). An 86% success rate is so high that we expect Scheyer to make any given free throw. Yet, at the moment of Lundquist’s apology, Scheyer was 4 for 5 (80%) from the line. Even over that small sample set, his short term 80% success rate was effectively identical to his career rate of 86%.

Verne didn’t jinx Scheyer. He just made a statement that, by chance, happened to coincide with a normal, probabilistic event. Superstitions get started that way. Continue reading “Math Madness #2: The “Jinx” & The “Choke””

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