“Despite the amazing diversity we’re blessed with in this country, schools are still in large part segregated because of economic disparity. Sports are one of the few areas where kids are really given the opportunity to interact with those of different races and religions.” — Steve Kerr, retired NBA player from the Chicago Bulls
Ever since I was a kid, I was always into basketball and never felt as if I wasn’t ever welcomed on the court because of my race. Regardless of the fact that my skin color was different than the people I was playing with, it was like we all were the same as we stepped on to the court. Sports is a way to connect with others regardless of their age, gender, and race. Sports brings everyone together because even if two people speak different languages, they can both speak the language of basketball when they are on the court. For example, the NBA started Noche Latina in the 2006-2007 season where the NBA celebrates the Latino Heritage due to the increase in Latino participation and interest in the game of basketball. Saskia Sorrosa, the vice president of the NBA’s Hispanic Market said “Noche Latina is the perfect example of the NBA’s ongoing commitment to celebrate the diversity of our game.”
The NBA teams wear special jerseys with team names translated into Spanish and the venue often offers cultural food and music as a game day celebration. This takes place in the cities that have a big influence of the Latin culture such as the Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Chicago Bulls, Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks. The other ways the NBA is trying to capture the Latino market is by starting a multimedia marketing campaign named éne-bé-a which is the Spanish translation of NBA. After all the time and money it took to create an entire separate marketing campaign, the NBA shows the Latino community that it seriously values them as fans. Due to the new campaign, the Hispanic fan base increased by nine percent between 2008 and 2009. We can see how the NBA has developed over time from being known as an “American” sport to now a universal sport. Diversity in the NBA is growing rapidly and now currently there are many Latino players from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Puerto Rico, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. I personally believe the initiative that the NBA has taken to become more internationally friendly is quite impressive. As we all know the NBA is a business at the end of the day and will make moves to make the most money that it can. Although it may be for those reasons, the fact that they do it by inviting other cultures to the game of basketball can give an incentive for minorities to fulfill their dreams of becoming an NBA star.
Below is a video during Noche Latina 2011 that was aired on television showing the accomplishments of a Spaniard, Rudy Fernandez.