Call for Chapters: Investigating the Hardwood – Interdisciplinary Analyses of and Reflections on Professional Basketball

deadline for submissions: 
December 20, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Till Neuhaus & Niklas Thomas

As a sport, basketball follows a certain set of rules and conventions which serve as a framework for players, coaches, and teams to play the sport. By their very nature, these rules are meritocratic which means that all participants are equal on the court, play by the same rules, and the only relevant (read as: game deciding) factors are effort, skill, and fortune. Such a perspective on basketball and sports leads certain fans and observers to statements such as “politics should be kept out of sports”. While the aspects mentioned above are true for the sport of basketball, it should not be forgotten that (professional) basketball is also embedded in and/or intertwined with other (sub-)systems of society, such as but not limited to: media (tv rights, movie productions, documentaries etc.), business (merchandise and equipment sales, corporate intertwinements, sponsorship, tv rights etc.), culture (basketball players as cultural ambassadors, practices of (shared/collective) memories etc.), history, (consumer) society, and many others. Depending on the level of analysis, professional basketball quickly becomes a multi-faceted entity which features a plethora of interdependent interests and logics. Taking this as a starting point, this edited collection wants to bring together chapters which focus on selected issues of professional basketball but consider the multiple dimensions that these issues have been influenced by and influence themselves – in short: our aim is to present works which consider multiple contextual levels.

While the sport of basketball is played all around the world, professional basketball has – at least for the longest time – been a proto-American sport and the National Basketball Association (NBA) has, by most observers, been considered the most competitive league in the world. Therefore, this collection wants to put strong emphasis on analysis which investigate cases, incidents, tendencies etc. of the NBA but will also consider other inputs. Possible topics – as said, the presented analysis should consider multiple dimensions – for chapters could deal with issues such as (but do not need to be limited to):

-          Business aspects of professional basketball (interplay of different incentive structures, changes in marketing (i.e. of players, teams etc.), penetration of different markets, introduction of new products etc.)

-          Basketball and Politics (i.e. players criticizing police violence, players setting up charities to solve public problems but also the international politics of professional basketball such as the troublesome relationship with China, international trade and marketing etc.)

-          Historical aspects of basketball (Pre-NBA leagues, historical turning points, the early days of basketball, rule changes etc.)

-          Cultural dimensions of basketball (Basketball related media products, such as music, movies, documentaries but also shared experiences, basketball and race, cultures of memory/nostalgia, or the recruitment of basketball players for cultural endeavors)

-          Basketball and (consumer) society at large

-          Basketball and Gender (i.e. WNBA) as well as LGBTQ aspects of professional basketball

The idea of this project is to compile a book consisting of articles which consider the multiple contextual dimensions which have been influenced by and influence professional basketball.

If you are interested in contributing to this project, please submit an abstract (400-500 words) in which you outline your project. Also, please submit a short biography (~100 words) on your affiliation, qualification, and background. Send both (in a single file) to the editors of this book: Niklas Thomas (n_thom06@uni-muenster.de) and Till  Neuhaus (till.neuhaus@uni-bielefeld.de) by December 20th 2021; we will try to give you feedback within the first week of January. We are open to multiple methodological approaches as long as the generated findings are contextualized/embedded in a wider web of knowledge.