BASN’s Watkins, Jackson Tangle With Stern Over Racism In Hoops

By Off The BASN Sports Wire
Updated: May 8, 2007

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse University Professor and regular BASN columnist Dr. Boyce Watkins says that he is not surprised by a study citing racism in NBA foul calling.

In a recent study, Justin Wolfers, an Assistant Professor of Business and Public Policy at The University of Pennsylvania, and Joseph Price, a Cornell graduate student in economics, found that during 1991 through 2004, white NBA officials were more likely to call fouls against black players than white players, and a weak effect that black officials were more likely to call fouls against white players.

They went on to say that when it comes to white referees, a predominantly white officiating crew has the ability to significantly impact the outcome of the game.

Dr. Watkins appeared on Keep Hope Alive Radio this past weekend with NBA Commissioner David Stern to discuss the issue.

“Any sports fan always knew there was something wrong with the NBA as it pertains to race”, said Watkins.

“There has been a consistent effort to ‘whiten’ the league, and it is not inconceivable that the racism that exists everywhere else in America also exists in the NBA.”

Dr. Watkins argues that the NBA’s secrecy as it pertains to privileged data does not help its case. Most academics have not been given access to datasets argued to be much more thorough than the ones used thus far.

“If you have nothing to hide, why are you hiding everything?” says Watkins, who is the author of What if George Bush were a Black Man?

“These academics have not been given access to the private data the NBA possesses, but the NBA is willing to have its own ‘experts’ analyze the data. Of course their conclusions are going to agree with Commissioner David Stern”.

“They have as much credibility as the doctors in the 1950s who once said that smoking is healthy.”

Dr. Watkins, who is also the host of the nationally-syndicated radio show Boiling Hot with Boyce Watkins, says that there is a clear backlash against the dominance of the black male athlete.

He argues that this back lash is strongest at the professional level and cites the choices of Steve Nash as the two-time MVP and Dirk Nowitzki as the predicted MVP for this season. While these players are talented, Watkins argues that there are black players who are far better.

He also compared Stern with Darth Vader (Star Wars) when it comes to controlling the image of the league. “The only players who have been allowed to speak are the ones who agree with David Stern,” says Watkins, who is also the author of Everything you ever wanted to know about college . “The players who dare to speak out against David Stern could find themselves blackballed.”