Political events surrounding the 1936 Olympics intersect with the evolution of basketball in this outstanding history.
The first game of basketball was played in 1891 without nets or dribbling. Created by James Naismith as an indoor winter activity that would support Muscular Christianity, early participants from the YMCA training program in Springfield, Massachusetts, soon spread the new game worldwide. When basketball was added as a sport in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Hitler saw it as an opportunity to showcase German might and athletic superiority. Meanwhile, American basketball players were holding fundraisers to help with travel costs while many Americans were calling for a boycott of the games altogether. Maraniss (Strong Inside, 2016, etc.) includes little-known facts about basketball, brutal information about Nazi Germany, and the harsh realities of blatant racism in the U.S. and Germany alike. The U.S. basketball team was all white; despite feeling conflicted by rampant anti-Semitism on both sides of the Atlantic, one Jewish player still chose to compete. Written with the captivating voice of a color commentator and the sobriety of a historian, Maraniss peppers readers with anecdotes, statistics, and play-by-play action, shining a spotlight on names found only in the footnotes of history while making it painfully clear that racism affected both politics and sport, tarnishing, a bit, each gold medal and the five Olympic rings.
An insightful, gripping account of basketball and bias. (afterword, Olympic basketball data, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)