Latino Studies Latinx Basketball
Bernardo Ramirez Rios
  • LAST REVIEWED: 22 September 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 22 September 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199913701-0156


Research on Latinx athletes and their communities is a significant contribution to sports studies. Recent studies on sports in Latinx communities have highlighted regional teams, transnational relationships, race and ethnicity, and sociopolitical structures. Still, the need continues for more attention on Latinx sport identity and community. Although basketball originated in the United States, the sport played a significant political role in regions throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. For example, in Mexico, President Lázaro Cárdenas (r. 1934–1940) introduced government reforms that included promoting sports; thus, in Oaxaca, Catholic missionaries used basketball as a socialization tool to strengthen relationships in rural communities (see Rios 2008 [cited under Society and Culture]). Rios 2019 (cited under Society and Culture) and Garcia 2014 (cited under History and Geography) are the primary texts dedicated to the history of basketball in Latin America and the importance of basketball to Latinx communities in the United States.

General Overview

While many studies examine the African American relationship with basketball in the United States, less representation has been given to other minority groups for whom basketball is also a marquee sport. For example Yep 2009 (cited under History and Geography) highlights the significance of basketball and its cultural importance in a California Asian American community. Similarly, Thangaraj 2015 (cited under Society and Culture) provides an ethnographic account of how South Asian American players express identity through the sport in the southern United States. The sports grasp on identity formation is foundational in many Native American communities, and Davies 2020 is the main text to describe the cultural evolution of rezball. However, a gap exists in the literature on the history of basketball in Latin America and the Caribbean and the sports influence on Latinx communities in the United States. The available literature on Latinx basketball is categorized under two sections: History and Geography and Society and Culture. The categories intersect and are interwoven through moments in time, but they signify the research approach and disciplinary trajectory. History and Geography emphasizes the history of sport and its influence on national and regional identity. Society and Culture underscores the significance of sporting communities and the impact of Latinx basketball on racial and ethnic identity. Although the literature on sports within Latinx communities is limited, much opportunity for growth exists within the multiple subfields of sports studies.

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