2-2 | Give and Go: Basketball as a Cultural Practice

Albany: State University of New York Press, 2008. Bibliography, index. viii, 250 pp. $21.95 cloth. ISBN: 9780791473931
Douglas Hartmann

Every couple of months, it seems, I have a colleague, graduate student, or journalist approach me for advice on writing up something ethnographic or sociological about their weekly pickup basketball game. An avid, if physically challenged, Thursday- night player myself, I find this desire to help others (if not oneself) understand why running up and down a court with nine other people trying to throw a leather ball through a steel hoop is so compelling and full of meaning rather heartwarming. Yet I am typically cautious to the point of discouraging in dealing with such inquiries. It is, after all, far more difficult than most imagine to say something of interest or import in this well-worn terrain. Thomas Mc Laughlin’s contribution to the genre rises above all this. 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.