The Center for the Study of Sport and Leisure in Society

A Platini In the Making

In NBA on May 29, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff, PhD

In 1993 Le Monde asked, “where is the Platini of French basketball?”  The answer was recently reaffirmed: in San Antonio, Texas.

Tony Parker’s performance for the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs confirmed that the mantle of legendary French footballer Michel Platini has found hoop-swishing shoulders.  Not that there was any doubt since the mid-2000s that Parker was up for the task. But what does it take to make a Platini, a sports figure known for his leadership, sports ambassadorship, and finesse on the pitch?

Born in 1982 in Belgium but raised in France, Parker lived, breathed, and dreamed basketball from his earliest years.  For as long as he could remember, Parker’s dream was to play in the NBA.[ii] The experiences of his father, Tony Sr., who played professional basketball in Belgium and France, were certainly influential, as were the exploits of his idol Michael Jordan. So, too, was the era in which Tony Jr. grew up: one in which the “Dream Team effect” of the 1992 Barcelona Games made basketball in the hexagone cool, hip, and modern.  


The Triumph of the Human Spirit Over the Bombings at the Boston Marathon

In Fandom, Politics on April 17, 2013 at 11:53 am

By John Nauright

Yesterday’s tragedy struck at the heart of what it means to be human. In running, we express the ultimate freedom of bodily movement and the satisfaction that comes with setting a goal and achieving it. The bombs briefly struck at the heart of that freedom. Yet, despite being exhausted from the effort of running over 26 miles, hundreds of runners kept on running until they reached nearby hospitals where they could donate blood for the wounded. Sadly, any public event is a potential target for an attack of terror, however, the resilience of these athlete-heroes and the many others who responded instantly suggests that freedom, justice, and human kindness prevail over those bent on destruction.

We grieve for the victims, their families and friends, but no one act should ever extinguish the experience of what it means to be alive. The Boston Marathon should become an ever-brighter beacon for the celebration of those ideals of our common humanity and for the expression of our humanity through the joy of movement or the celebration of the success of others in achieving their goals.

The NBA All-Star Game: An Example of the League’s Global Dimension

In NBA on February 19, 2013 at 1:29 am

By Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff

The West triumphed last night, 143-138, at the 62nd NBA All-Star game.  As Forbes noted, the global reach of the league’s All-Star game indicated how much the NBA has become an international brand.[1] While the media coverage was one worldwide highlight, another was the labor force.[2] Of the 24 players who had court time during the main game, two athletes—8.3% of the official team rosters—represent Les Bleus in elite international competition.

The NBA All-Star press release proudly boasted that nine “international players” would participate in the 2013 All Star Game activities.[3] The NBA’s definition of an “international player” corresponds to where one is born, and includes those with dual citizenship. Kyrie Irving, an “international player” listed on the 2013 East team roster, holds both Australian and U.S. citizenship. Tim Duncan of the 2013 West team, another “international player,” was born on St. Croix, a U.S. possession, and played for the U.S. national men’s team.  Of the athletes listed on the official team roster, four were considered by the NBA to be “international players”: Irving, Duncan, Luol Deng (Great Britain), and Tony Parker (France).  However, reconsider the definition of who constitutes an “international player” to instead be someone who has opted to represent another country in elite international competition—the term’s standard definition within global (and academic) sport circles.  Then re-examine the 2013 All-Star team rosters and you realize that only three have played for another country’s national basketball team: Deng, Parker, and Joakim Noah (France).[4]

Parker (San Antonio Spurs), perhaps more recognized in the United States than that other contemporary French great, Zinédine Zidane, concluded his fifth All-Star appearance Sunday evening. Joakim Noah (Chicago Bulls), who first shot to fame as part of the 2006 NCAA championship Florida Gators, made his debut All-Star performance.

How did the French press cover the All-Star game?  On Monday morning, the website of France’s leading sports daily, L’Équipe, ran the NBA game as the second headline story.[5] The main game summary, (“The All Star Game Leans to the West”) carried the subhead, “The West imposes itself (143-138) in Houston for the third time in a row at an All-Star Game where Chris Paul was elected MVP and Tony Parker and Joakim Noah held their rank.” The story led with an anecdote of Joakim Noah. The sports section of Le Monde featured three stories devoted to the weekend’s football matches and the Pistorius affair. The paper’s basketball blog declared “All Star Game: The West of Chris Paul Outclassed the East,” and devoted the first three paragraphs to the game recap. Paragraph four turned to the real matter at hand: how French internationals fared, and noted that both Parker and Noah had ample playing time (22 minutes of game time for Parker and 16 for Noah). On Le Figaro’s