The emergence of basketball as an American national pastime: From a popular participant sport to a spectacle of nationhood

Pamela Grundy, Murry Nelson, Mark Dyreson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Invented in the USA in 1891, basketball immediately proved a popular pastime among those who played the game but it did not initially rank in the estimation of most American observers as a national pastime. By the twenty-first century, however, basketball had become acclaimed by the media and fans as one of a trio of team sports that stood as national pastimes, alongside baseball and American football. Promoters of basketball have since its invention promoted it as worthy of national pastime status but for much of the first century of its existence it did not quite meet that threshold. Beloved in certain regions and among certain groups, widely played but not as widely watched, basketball remained until the last quarter of the twentieth century outside of the boundaries that denoted national pastime status to most observers in the USA. Beginning in that era, however, a confluence of forces catapulted the game into national pastime status, a new eminence in American popular culture underscored by the debut of Michael Jordan and the Dream Team at the 1992 Olympics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)134-155
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Volume31
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 22 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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