Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Is the NBA Racist?

In the midst of the best playoff series (Warriors-Mavs) maybe EVAR, the NBA gets hit with some pretty bad PR today.

An academic study of the National Basketball Association, whose playoffs
continue tonight, suggests that a racial bias found in other parts of American
society has existed on the basketball court as well.

A coming paper by a University of Pennsylvania professor and a Cornell
University graduate student says that, during the 13 seasons from 1991 through 2004, white referees called fouls at a greater rate against black players than against white players.

Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy at the Wharton School, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, found a corresponding bias in which black officials called fouls more frequently against white players, though that tendency was not as strong. They went on to claim that the different rates at which fouls are called “is large enough that the probability of a team winning is noticeably affected by the racial composition of the refereeing crew assigned to the game.”

As a (very) frequent paying customer, I don't really know if I agree with the assertion above. More than anything else, the NBA is a star driven league, and most of the stars are black. Heck, most of the players are black. In fact, if there's anyplace in the world where black men seem immune to racism, it's on the NBA court.

I don't really know what, if anything, to make of this. But in the grand scheme of things, considering how bad it is out here for the AverageBro on the streets, Tim Duncan getting whistled for an extra foul here or there is pretty irrelevant.

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