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Andrews and Silk article on Basketball's Ghettocentric Logic

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Courtney Herrmann

on 1 April 2014

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Transcript of Andrews and Silk article on Basketball's Ghettocentric Logic

Basketball's Ghettocentric Logic
Introduction to Andrews and Silk Article
The article discusses the perceived racial "problem" within the NBA and the over-all perception of a ghetto-mentality.

"This project seeks to understand the various ways the notion of the "urban" and the "street" have been utilized as both highly commercialized and highly politicized cultural metaphors framing the manner in which African Americans (and African American males in particular) are represented and understood in contemporary American culture. "
Mobilizing the Urban Landscape
The NBA has efficiently mobilized the representations of race and racial difference it had previously shunned
Embodying the Street
Why People Precede Ghetto in Basketball
•Basketball – Easy to play and Cheap
•Inner City – Mostly played Basketball
•Allen Iverson helped start the ghetto stereotype.
•-Born in a rough city
•-Jail at age 17

•How Hip/Hop and Rap are tied into Basketball
–Cities and Neighborhood are rapped about in Songs.
–Money, Clothes and Jewelry. NBA wear and have.
–Most and all Rappers come from cities and urban areas.
–Basketball is popular among rappers. (Jay-Z, Drake)
The NBA's commercial mobilization of its own Blackness can be linked to broader, post-Fordist transformations in the US economy
Best exemplified in changes within food, dress and music cultures
Highly developed consumer culture: acquisition of material goods & desire to create social distinction
Barbershop conveys an
black space
Playing the dozens
": ritualized verbal sparring and self promotion
The NBA became subsumed by its own
ghettocentric imagination
Many advertisers saw the NBA as a drug-infested, too-black with dwarfish Nielsen ratings.

Many Corporations wanted no part of the game

Sponsors felt that the NBA and its black stars had little value to pitching colas and cornflakes to middle America

Corporations Attitudes
Carmelo Anthony
currently plays for the New York Knicks
Attended Syracuse University
Raised in the streets of Baltimore
The NBA’s Urban Preclusion
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s NBA suffered from an image crisis (Cady, 1979, p. 15)
-Racial constructed images of the players in the NBA as being:
~ Lazy
~ Irresponsible
~ Deviant
~ Selfish

Impacted cultural and and commercial value of league
Comparisons to the Wire
Anthony compares his childhood growing up in Baltimore very much so to “The Wire”. Stating that “It’s very real. Everything is real about it”

The Jordan Image
The Jordan Image at the time looking to stay relevant within the culture of the NBA acquired Anthony to join Kobe as the faces of the brand.

Andrew and Silk compare Anthony to Iverson with his minor troubles with the law ranging from traffic violations to marijuana possession charges. Anthony after all is from the tough streets of Baltimore.

"Stop Snitchin"
By adding Anthony to their brand Jordan was able to connect with the urban community on a more personal level and gain consumers in the process

Must target the perceived pathologies of Blackness
~Drug abuse
~On and off court behavior
~Sartorial presentation (Attire)

NBA implemented a well thought out marketing goal of making black men safe for (white) consumers in the interest of profit

However the NBA’s attempts to change the perception of their players made the racial pathologies more visible

Model For Socially Accepted Blackness
In the mid 1980’s Michael Jordan helped in the process of managing racial perceptions

He was fashioned into the atypical figure distanced from irresponsibility, unruliness, and brutish physicality typically associated with African American males… (with the assistance of NIKE)

Intensifying focus on basketball among African American urban youth

Increased poverty, crime, incarceration rates among African American

“With few other avenues for economic achievement and opportunity open to them, basketball had now become a way of life for many young Black men in the ‘hood’” (Boyd, 2003, p. 150).

Urban Youth
Media Perception
During the 1980’s, the coverage of the game within the popular press led to it being politicized

At the time, some NBA players were giving the league a negative connotation. (out-of-control urban population)

Jordan’s image identity was manufactured as the antidote to the moral panic enveloping the NBA

For years the NBA has policed it's players by marketing and branding them according to their best interests.
The most important item on The League's agenda remains their image.
Furthermore, the management of these African-American athletes is the NBA's best attempt at addressing it's "racial problem."
The End
Courtney, Kevin, Matt, Augustus, Max, and Kieran
Full transcript