Sport and recreation in the United States — страница 8

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National League appeared in the late 1930s, and a Negro Ameri­can League in 1936. Both leagues died in 1952 when black stars in large numbers began to be signed to major and minor league contracts after Jackie Robinson's pioneering year with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. The National League's 1903 merger with the Western (American) League created a structure of two eight-team leagues and a World Series (also dating from 1903). This arrangement remained intact until 1953, when the Boston Braves moved to Milwaukee. The years after World War I saw baseball mature into America's premier sports culture with a full array of mythic underpinnings: an immaculate conception (the Cooperstown legend of Abner Doubleday's invention of the game), a myth of the fall (the fixed 1919 World

Series), an Odysseus (Ту Cobb), an Achilles (Babe Ruth), a Zeus (Judge Landis), an aristocracy (the Yankees), and a rabble (the Dodgers). More than any other American sport, baseball lends itself to legend. The statistical records give each game a mythic dimension as the hits, runs, errors, and strikeouts are melded into the record books. The mythic power of the game, however, also takes its toll, as even on the lowest level parents and coaches try to ride the miniature exploits of their midget performers into the realm of sports fantasy [3, p.209-210]. Basketball The evolution of basketball exhibits a more complicated mixture of elite uplift and ethnic aspiration. Basketball started as part of the nineteenth-century crusade to Americanize (or Christianize) the immigrants; it

was quickly taken over by those targets for genteel uplift as a way ethnics could express their national pride and compete with other immigrants. Basketball was invented in 1891 at the YMCA's leadership training institute in Springfield, Massachusetts. One of the physical instructors at the institute, James Naismith, developed rules for what he called "A New Sport": tossing a soccer ball into a backboardless peach basket. Naismith evidently intended that the ball be moved only by passing, but players soon discovered other ways to advance the ball without carrying it. At first they juggled the ball overhead (volleyball style) as they ran, but when juggling was outlawed the superior technique of dribbling was developed by players in the South Philadelphia Hebrew

Association Leagues. Other early improvements included the removal of the bottom from the peach basket, fastening the basket to a backboard, and for a time surrounding the court with wire fencing to keep the ball in play (hence the term "cagers" for basketball players). The "New Sport" became particularly popular at YMCAs and settle­ment houses in immigrant neighborhoods in the large cities. In New York the University Settlement House fielded championship teams, and by the 1930s there were Jewish Recreational Council Tri-State Championships, Lithuanian National Championships, Polish Roman Catholic Championships, a National Federation of Russian Orthodox Clubs, Catholic Youth Organization leagues, B'nai B'rith leagues, and countless other ethnically based

leagues and teams. The first professional teams were also ethnic, and had names like the Detroit Pulaskis, the Brooklyn Visitations (Irish), the Newark Turnverein, the Original Celtics (largely Jewish and based in New York City), the Harlem Renaissance, the Hebrew All-Stars, and the Buffalo Germans. The ethnic professional teams were succeeded by industrial teams sponsored by factories as part of employee relations programs. This was particularly common among the rubber companies in the Akron, Ohio, area. Industrial teams were the nucleus of the National Basketball League (NBL) when it was organized in 1937. In 1946 the Basketball Association of America (BAA) was organized by the owners of large arenas in major cities; only arena owners were permitted to enter teams. The NBL and

the BAA competed until 1949, when the National Basketball Association (NBA) was formed by combining teams from the two leagues) [3, p.212-213]. The evolution of basketball technique and strategy occurred as innovative players overcame the resistance of a conservative coaching establishment. During basketball's first forty years coaches taught the two-handed set shot that turned basketball into an intricate pattern of weaves and passes designed to produce two and three man picks (human walls between the shooter and the defender) to give a player a chance to attempt this easily blocked shot. In 1937 Hank Luisetti of Stanford University scandalized the coaching fraternity by breaking all scoring records with a one-handed jump shot. Orthodox coaches labeled Luisetti a freak, an