Is There a Spiritual Connection between Black Men and Basketball? Onaje X. O. Woodbine Explains to Roland Martin

OAKLAND, CA - MARCH 23: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 23, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA – MARCH 23: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors during the game against the Los Angeles Clippers on March 23, 2016 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

For many African-American men, basketball is more than a game — it’s a way of life. A new book claims that basketball is even a religious experience for many Black men. 

The spiritual relationship between Black men and basketball — specifically streetball — is detailed in the new book, Black Gods of the Asphalt: Religion, Hip-Hop, and Street Basketball.

Onaje X. O. Woodbine recently sat down with NewsOne Now host Roland Martin to discuss the interesting connection between hoops and African-American inner-city culture.

Woodbine explained that James Naismith (the creator of basketball) was a Presbyterian minister, and created the sport as a way to “bring White men into the church.” According to Woodbine, the Black church later picked it up as a “stylized form of resistance to White supremacy.”

When asked why he called basketball a religion, Woodbine, a former streetball player who became an all-star Ivy Leaguer said, “The stereotype is that Black men pursue basketball for economic reasons or racial reasons, having to do with poverty, but in fact what’s really going on, especially in the city, is that this game expresses its search for meaning.”

Woodbine continued, saying those who play “are asking questions like who am I, what happens when you die, what is my purpose?”

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Source: NewsOne