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Basketball’s Forgotten Experiment: Don Barksdale and the Legacy of the United States Olympic Basketball Team
International Journal for the History of Sport, (2010)
  • Chad R Carlson, Eastern Illinois University
Abstract
The 1948 United States Olympic basketball team has largely been fotgotten in the annals of American history despite taking a major step toward racial integration in American sports. Don Barksdale, the first African American to represent the US on the hardwood in the Olympics, joined nine players from the American South and legendary University of Kentucky coach, Adolph Rupp - a man notoriously identified as a racist. While Barksdale experienced very little racial mistreatment during the London Olympics, the lead-up to the Games reveals America's ambiguous views on race relations. During training in the segregated states of Oklahoma and Kentucky, Barksdale experienced varying levels of treatment from his teammates, coaches, and citizens of the two southern states. His experiences paralleled those of another racial pioneer, Jackie Robinson, who mentored Barksdale throughout his basketball journeys. Today, Robinson stands as a household name for breaking baseball's color barrier while Barksdale, whose feat occurred just one year after his mentor's, has been all but forgotten within America's collective memory.
Keywords
  • basketball,
  • race,
  • Olympics,
  • Don Barksdale,
  • Adolph Rupp,
  • segregation
Disciplines
Publication Date
May, 2010
Citation Information
Chad R Carlson. "Basketball’s Forgotten Experiment: Don Barksdale and the Legacy of the United States Olympic Basketball Team" International Journal for the History of Sport, Vol. 27 Iss. 8 (2010)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/chad_carlson/3/