100 Year Anniversary Of First Black Inter-City Basketball Game, Today

On December 18, 2008, in Culture, History, Race, Relationships, by Black Fives Foundation

Today is the 100th anniversary of the first inter-city game between two African American basketball teams, on December 18, 1908.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the first inter-city game between two African American basketball teams.

Crescent Athletic Club basketball team

The Crescent Athletic Club basketball team of Washington, D.C.,
circa 1910.

When the Smart Set Athletic Club of Brooklyn played the Crescent Athletic Club of Washington, D.C. on December 18, 1908, it was “the first athletic contest between colored athletes” of those or any other two cities.

Brooklyn won the game.

The Smart Set also won the 1908-09 Colored Basketball World’s Championship, their second title in a row.

In those days, every basketball game was followed by a party, hosted by the home team.

So this game became an opportunity for the players on both teams to learn what was going on culturally, socially, politically, and economically in the black communities of New York and Washington, D.C., respectively.

For most of the players it was the first time they had ever even met African Americans who were living in another city.

Remember, they didn’t have airplanes, cell phones, internet, television, or radio.  Most long distance communication was done by telegram.

These men considered it an honor to be part of such a meaningful event. They were indeed part of something bigger.  This event, and those that followed, had meaning and significance in the broader context of race pride not just for survival but for ongoing development and growth.

In other words, basketball was a drumbeat.

The Smart Set Athletic Club basketball team of Brooklyn

The Smart Set Athletic Club basketball team of Brooklyn,
circa 1912.

Looking at basketball today, has the importance of camaraderie between teams diminished?

Why do you think that is?

Do players make the time to fraternize with their opponents from another town or city after a game?

Why?  Or, why not?

Do team officials encourage that practice, or discourage it?

Why? Or, why not?

I’d like to hear from you on this. Especially current or former athletes at whatever level.

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Quote of the Month

“It is very seldom that the pioneer in any walk of life reaps the harvest from the seed he has sown. Ofttimes many of them even die without knowing the real good they have accomplished.”
—Lester Walton, pioneering African American sportswriter for the New York Age, 1907

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