New America Now: The Sports Edition

New America Now: The Sports Edition

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The world's second oldest basketball league, after the NBA, is in the Philippines. But why would basketball have such a hold on a country where the average height is 5'6"? It sounds like hoop daydreams, rather than hoop dreams or as Fulbright scholar Rafe Bartholomew puts it like a nation of blind art historians. Bartholomew went to the Philippines to find out the backstory behind the country's unlikely love affair with the game. He talks about his book Pacific Rims.


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In San Francisco's Chinatown basketball was regarded as a cheap way to inculcate American values in an immigrant community. But when the first all Chinese exhibition leagues were formed they were marketed as "the yellow peril" coming to a playground near you says Kathleen Yep. She tells the story of Chinatown's basketball teams in her book Outside the Paint.


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Soccer has two kinds of followers in small towns across America. It's becoming the game of suburban children, many of them girls. It's also the game of refugees from many countries now living in small towns. Warren St. John profiled one team of refugees in Georgia in his book Outcasts United.


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Baseball might be the most quintessential American game. But increasingly many of its players come from countries across the world, especially the Caribbean. The feature film Sugaris based on the composite stories of young Dominicans who arrive in small towns to play in junior leagues with dreams of making it big. But for many of them suddenly being deposited with host families in the middle of Iowa is a rude shock. Filmmakers Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden talk about making Sugar.


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