My topic for this week is on basketball. In Steph Curry…The “Male Machine Gun Molly”?: Gender and Styles of Play in Modern Basketball, Cat Ariail discusses how men’s professional basketball players are often compared to other men’s players and not women’s players, and that Stephen Curry’s success is a result of an implied feminization of the game of basketball, as it has become less physical and aggressive than it was years ago. She also talks about how many people try to compare Curry to lesser-known male players, but that, instead, he should be compared to a woman who played professionally in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Molly Bolin. She and Curry were similar because they both overcame restraints on their talents, became better as a result, and played to the strengths of the systems they were placed in, not to mention both of their quick and skillful shooting abilities and releases. However, unlike Curry, who has a stable and unlikely to fade in the near future league he gets to play in, Bolin had to play in multiple leagues before being forced to not really play in any professional league at all, due to poor management and the likes. Men and women’s basketball today is shifting towards a more androgynous style of play in which honed skill over raw athleticism is being more and more emphasized, and both sectors of the game are benefitting in one way or another because of it.
In God’s Work: Hakeem Olajuwon, Islam, and the Role of Religion in American Athletics Alex Parrish talks about Hakeem Olajuwon’s success in the sport of basketball that seemed to come once he started practicing his childhood religion of Islam. Olajuwon, much like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Muhammad Ali, was looked down upon for practicing his religion, one of which is seen by many Americans as only the extremist sects of it and, therefore, violent and anti-West. However, much like Kareem and Ali, Olajuwon found success in his faith, as once he started practicing he won two NBA championships and multiple personal accolades, whereas beforehand he lost in college championships, one NBA championship, and a marriage. While Olajuwon and many others will probably always be looked down upon for expressing their political or religious views publicly, it can be refreshing to those who believe the same things as those athletes to know that it can be possible to succeed in a world that may seem to be actively against them.