Downtrodden yet Determined: Exploring the History of Black Males in Professional Basketball and How the Players Association Addresses Their Welfare
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Professional athletes are paid for their labor and it is often believed they have a weaker argument of exploitation. However, labor disputes in professional sports suggest athletes do not always receive fair compensation for their contributions to league and team success. Any professional athlete, regardless of their race, may claim to endure unjust wages relative to their fellow athlete peers, yet Black professional athletes’ history of exploitation inspires greater concerns. The purpose of this study was twofold: 1) to explore and trace the historical development of basketball in the United States (US) and the critical role Black males played in its growth and commercial development, and 2) to illuminate the perspectives and experiences of Black male professional basketball players concerning the role the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) and National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA), collectively considered as the Players Association for this study, played in their welfare and addressing issues of exploitation. While drawing from the conceptual framework of anti-colonial thought, an exploratory case study was employed in which in-depth interviews were conducted with a list of Black male professional basketball players who are members of the Players Association. The general findings of this study revealed six major themes. From the perspectives of the participants, it was implied that there was a 1) history of lived experiences of racism, 2) Black players are insulated from racism but not disbarred from it, 3) superstars have the most social impact potential, 4) progress is accomplished through strategic responsiveness to interest convergence (SRIC), 5) the NBPA is serviceable but limited, and 6) Black male professional basketball players are leaders of self-determination for Black communities. Implications for theory, policy, practice, and future research are discussed.
Garner, Justin Ryan (2019). Downtrodden yet Determined: Exploring the History of Black Males in Professional Basketball and How the Players Association Addresses Their Welfare. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from