Give and Go

Basketball as a Cultural Practice

By Thomas Mc Laughlin

Subjects: Sports And Society, Film Studies, Cultural Studies, Communication, American Studies
Paperback : 9780791473948, 258 pages, March 2008
Hardcover : 9780791473931, 258 pages, March 2008

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Table of contents

1. Introduction: Basketball as a Cultural Practice
2. The Ethics of Basketball
3. “Man to Man”: Basketball, Movement, and thePractice of Masculinity
4. Basketball, Decision Making, and Postindustrial Culture
5. Basketball as Community of Practice
6. Basketball and Racial Identity
7. Televising Basketball: Spectacle and Representation,Display and Control
8. Representing the Culture: Movies about Basketball
Works Cited
Suggested Readings

A pickup basketball player looks at the pickup game as a distinctive culture using both personal experience and cultural studies theory.


From the city courts of Harlem to the church halls of Indiana, pickup basketball culture is intensely local and reflects the histories and identities of its players. In Give and Go, Thomas Mc Laughlin examines how players put into play a loose set of values and ethical styles that influence how they think, feel, move, and relate to others within the community. A lifelong pickup ball player—one of modest skills but serious intent—Mc Laughlin has internalized and embodied the culture of the game, and he writes as a participant in the basketball community, putting into words what his body already knows. This book reflects the author's personal experience and observation of the game, through the lens of contemporary cultural theory, and also examines the representation of basketball culture in popular media, including the films Hoop Dreams, Hoosiers, and White Men Can't Jump. As only an insider can, Mc Laughlin takes readers onto the court and into the minds of players as they negotiate the culture of the game.

Thomas Mc Laughlin is Professor of English at Appalachian State University and the author of several books, including Street Smarts and Critical Theory: Listening to the Vernacular.


"Unparalleled in scope, coverage, quality of writing, and depth of thought, Give and Go sets a standard for others to learn from and aspire to. " — American Journal of Play

"…Mc Laughlin provides strong evidence that the culture in a simple game of pickup basketball reflects the culture of US society. " — CHOICE

"Mc Laughlin still plays in half-court games, but his theories on basketball are full court, and then some. If Sartre and Camus were hoopsters, they'd be laying high fives on him. " — Rick Telander, Chicago Sun-Times and author of Heaven Is a Playground

"With this groundbreaking book, Mc Laughlin makes an important contribution to the growing body of keen intellectualizing which has conclusively demonstrated that sport is not, has never been, and will never be, just a game. Mc Laughlin vividly illuminates the classed, raced, and gendered aspects of basketball, as well as its relationship with broader societal forces (social, economic, political, ethical, and technological). This is an important book on a sport that has come to define the contemporary American condition. " — David L. Andrews, author of Michael Jordan, Inc. : Corporate Sport, Media Culture, and Late Modern America