Historian and consultant Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff sits down with us on the next episode of “The History Factory Podcast” to talk about the history of basketball, its rise in popularity over time and the sport’s globalization. As the NBA season kicks off this week, History Factory CEO Jason Dressel dives into the history of basketball and how we might have the wrong idea about the French.
Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff is a historian and consultant, author of “Basketball Empire: France and the Making of a Global NBA and WNBA,” an adjunct instructor at New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global Sport, and director of the FranceAndUS sports diplomacy project.
Jason Dressel 0:11
Today on the history factor podcast, basketball history diplomacy with Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff. I’m Jason Dressel. And welcome to the history factory Podcast, the podcast at the intersection of business and history, basketball, history, and diplomacy. Which one of these seems to be an outlier? Well, as we’re about to learn none of them Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff, a sports diplomacy expert, consultant, writer and historian who works at the intersection of sports communications and diplomacy is here to talk about, among other things, her new book, basketball empire, France and the making of a global NBA and WNBA. The WNBA season just ended the 2023 24 NBA basketball season just began this week. And if you’re not a close follower of the NBA, you may not know that this season, the league has a rookie who is arguably the biggest thing since LeBron James entered the league 20 years ago. Victor women Yama or wimpy, is playing for the San Antonio Spurs. He is listed as seven foot three which means he is the tallest player in the league, although I think there are other players who are seven three. But what makes when be a potentially once in a generation player is that he combines that height with an insane eight foot wingspan and a skill set and a level of mobility that is just absolutely not normal. He can play out on the perimeter he can shoot threes, he can run the court. And with that height and wingspan he can block and alter shots and cover ground and make Steel’s as LeBron James himself was quoted as saying, quote, Every body has been a unicorn over the last few years, but he’s more like an alien. No one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is not as fluid and as graceful as when be I think he’s 18 years old, he may be 19. Now, he is also French, which brings us to the topic at hand on today’s history factory podcast. Now I don’t know about you, but when I think about French influence on American culture, sports is not the first thing that comes to mind. I think of art, food, fashion literature theater. You know, I think about Americans like the last generation in Paris in the 1920s Hemingway, Gertrude Stein and F Scott Fitzgerald or, you know, African American artists in Paris in you know, after World War Two, you know, the jazz movement, but I don’t think about sports. But in fact, Victor women Yama is just the most recent French import and basketball player specifically, and France and the United States have this really long shared history of basketball. So here to share more is Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff. As I said before, she is a sports diplomacy expert. And she is also co director of the basketball diplomacy in Africa project. She is author of The Making of live blue sport in France 1958 to 2010 views from the embassy, and she is a contributing writer on global sports for CNN International, Washington Post, the athletic by sports, Sporting News, The New Yorker, and many more. And she’s also a veteran of the US Department of State’s Bureau of Public Affairs Office of the historian, and she’s a research associate at the Center for International Studies and diplomacy at the University of London and an adjunct lecturer with New York University’s Tisch Institute for Global sport. And her latest book is basketball empire, France and the making of a global NBA and WNBA. So without further ado, please welcome Dr. Lindsay. Sarah Krasnoff.
Lindsay, welcome to the history factory podcast. Thanks so much.
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 4:13
Thanks so much for having me. Well,
Jason Dressel 4:16
First of all, congratulations on the book. It’s, it’s a it’s a really interesting, interesting topic and very timely as well as we’ll talk about. But first, I’m just dying to ask this question because you and I have have met before in the past and have spoken. And we talked about maybe some some other topics that were a little more adjacent to, to really your sort of core core passion and which is captured so well and capsulated in in this new book. But let’s kind of start with that, you know, you bring together this really interesting mix of history and communications and diplomacy and sports. And that’s not a sort of common career path. So I’m just Curious, you know what, what kind of took you on that journey and how have you kind of brought together these interesting sort of practice areas, if you will, of diplomacy and history and communications and sports.
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 5:14
It’s a great starting point. And, you know, I wish I could say it is all part of a very well thought out and executed plan. But it is totally not the case at all. More, it’s an, it’s an accumulation of my varied work and personal interests that have happened to span academia, government, the media and the private sector, as well as spanning geographic regions. Although my career has gone between academia, working for the US government, as a historian with the US Department of State, writing pieces for the media, teaching, and then also in the private sector, you know, there’s kind of two guiding threads that helped to tie it all together. The first is just, you know, I always firmly believe that a better understanding of the past helps us not just individually, but collectively as a society today, whether it is thinking about issues, things in the news, or our own work and institutions. And it also helps to provide inspiration for the future. The second guiding thread that’s kind of stitched all of this together is that, for me, sports have long been a prison to engage with others, and to look at societies and to kind of think and interact with people regardless of device or geographic locale, because not only does it reflect our societies, but a sport is also a kind of a universal language. And a lot of this is formed by the fact that I grew up outside of Boston, Massachusetts, around the town of Concord, which is where the first shots in theory were, you know, shot sounded, that began the American war for independence. And, you know, growing up the history was always around us, April 19, was always a holiday and you’d go to the Old North Bridge in Concord, watch the reenactment, volunteers would dress up as the Minuteman volunteers would dress up as the, you know, the British soldiers and their bread coats. And I still can recall, even in April’s when I was in college, and I’d be home, for whatever reason, during that period of time, being woken up early in the morning by the sound of Fife and drums as the local Minutemen began their march to the Old North Bridge in Concord. So you know, that that has kind of been that one strand that helps to shape it also growing up in that region. I’ve long, you know, sports has long been a part of the the social fabric, although we’re very much part of Red Sox Nation, I grew up at a time before they weren’t anything. And it was a long time. But you know, it’s a common point of bonding with everyone, right? How about the socks every spring, there was a lot of hope, which was dashed by every August, as the late days of summer made it clear that this was in fact, not our year, after all. And you know, I went to Boston Bruins games with my grandfather or my father, and would ask questions, in addition to what the heck is the offensive rule? But, you know, why do people talk differently than we do? I don’t have this stereotypical Boston accent, although I can break it out on demand. You know, why are people drinking tall beers out of brown paper bags? Where are all the other women and girls? So I think that these early formative experiences, although I didn’t really connect them to anything at the time, I think they helped to inform kind of my my outlook towards both my career and the roles that I think both history and sport play today.
Jason Dressel 9:04
Well, first of all, share that’s a wicked smart answer. But, you know, it’s interesting how you point that out that sports is this kind of communal language. And it’s interesting because on the surface, you know, when you think about history, and communications and diplomacy, those all those all make sense. And the sports ones definitely feels like the the one that is not like all the others. But how do you you frame that up is really interesting. How did if I may just kind of dig in more on that just quickly. How did the sports piece kind of come about though, in a way that you actually saw a way to to act act upon it, if that makes sense?
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 9:45
Yes, definitely makes sense. At some point. When I was in my undergraduate college career, I had the epiphany that I wanted to be sports journalist. I can’t remember exactly where the sprung from that But I went to be sports journalist. And so I applied and attended graduate school at New York University, to do just that I enrolled in a journalism program with a sports media focus. But at the same time, I did a joint degree in French studies kind of combining the passion. That or the curiosity, I should say, that first developed during my study abroad in France, into my graduate education. And in order to get out of that degree program, I had to write about something kind of journalistic investigative dealing with sports and something dealing with France. At the time, it was after France won the FIFA World Cup at the first time, and the European championship back to back, my advisor, his daughters were heavily involved in the youth soccer circuit in Boston. And as we were tossing around ideas of what it was that I could possibly focus on, for this project, he said, well, but we know what youth soccer is like here in the US. But it’s like in France, how do they make the blue? So that kind of was the starting point of a lot. What did so this
Jason Dressel 11:19
is fine, this all kind of interests into the conversation that sort of leads up to some of the themes that you talked about in the new book, but I was going to ask, why are you a Franco file? But I think you already already kind of inferred, like a lot of us, you know, you go somewhere in college, and you kind of get indoctrinated into the culture, and that can create sort of a lifelong love affair. But what did you find? And I guess, you know, we all those of us here in the states who love sports, those of us, certainly who now have, you know, kids like myself, who are involved in youth sports, you know, see what that’s like, both from a positive standpoint, and sometimes not so positive standpoint. But how would you just generally sort of characterize how sports culture is different in Europe from your experience, and maybe specifically in in France,
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 12:16
Specifically, with relation to France, it has long been argued, and I would tend to agree that this remains the case, even today, that France lacks a sports culture, in terms of the way we would think about it in the United States, or Canada, or Britain or Germany or Australia. That isn’t to say that the French do not enjoy sports, or that they don’t play them and engage them they do and they have for centuries, it’s just that sport is not part of kind of the everyday cultural rung or it is not considered important enough, by certain opinion making elites to be integrated into that those particular perhaps more higher level cultural middle use, than it is in other countries. And so that is one of the struggles that many athletes in France, even today still face, that, that you know, if they introduced themselves as a, especially their elite level athletes, that in some quarters that is looked down upon or, you know, as something more frivolous, not, not perhaps as much of a strong contribution to society as other professional endeavors. There’s a really a few really great examples of this both in in, in the book as well as on an adjacent project that I work on called France and us, which features the French and American relationship through sport, past present and the next generation. Beyond basketball. Obviously, there’s a lot of basketball there, but showing the larger the larger history across all sporting disciplines between the two countries, which is much deeper and longer, and I think stronger than many people realize.
Jason Dressel 14:06
Yeah, exactly. And we’re gonna get into that. But I think it’s interesting how you point out that sports and how it’s perceived in sort of society and popular culture in France is sort of distinctly different than many of the other European countries. How would you kind of characterize that compared to how sports crazy we all are here in the United States? Do you see that as a kind of similar phenomena obviously, with with football, aka soccer, it’s crazy, you know, in in a number of countries around the world, not just obviously Europe. But do you see the United States being sort of uniquely different than some of these other countries and cultures with respect to our Our relationship healthy or otherwise with sports?
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 15:05
Yes, I do think that the United States is rather unique in its relationship with sports and sports culture as compared to some other countries, certainly in Europe, and specifically with France in mind, thinking of that kind of transAtlantic comparison, I would suggest that one of the key differences between a French sports culture or you know, what, what there is of one, or the lack of regard for one, and that in the United States is that we think about what are the main sports and teams that drive the sports culture in the US today, or even past, right? It’s professional sports and NCAA university level sports, but particularly those that generate lots of viewership, lots of consumer dollars, lots of alumni booster dollars. And a lot of that relates to the fact that when you think of most, pretty much all of the professional teams, throughout American sports across any of the sporting disciplines, they began life as for profit enterprises, right. So part so part of kind of that business, you know, entertainment and leisure as business module in France and other parts of Europe. A lot of what are today their professional, professional sports clubs, not all, but many of them began life as you know, local town or community clubs, usually multi sport clubs, right? So when you look at PSG Paris sounds German, perhaps most well known is its football soccer team. But there are other you know, it has a very strong handball team. And so originally, these clubs began life, in service of the community, as sports associations, right for the benefit of all, not necessarily to make money. There have, obviously a few exceptions there. Within France, the professionalization of sports has been significantly I think, slower than many Americans or those outside of France might realize, long hindered by the kind of values and fellas associated with the Olympic Movement, which was founded by French aristocrat, Pierre to Cooper 10, that prized an idealized the status of the amateur athlete as part of the engaging in sport for its moral and ethical values. And that getting paid to do so was kind of beneath the whole point. Although
Jason Dressel 17:43
we see, that’s pretty discordant with our sports culture here.
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 17:47
Yeah, very much. And so I think that helps to at least reframe a little bit how we should be thinking about the, the comparison and contrast of the two different different entities.
Jason Dressel 18:01
Yeah, interesting. So let’s talk about basketball. My favorite sport as a, as a native of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and someone who who grew up is an 80s kid. You know, basketball has become such a, you know, American export. And, you know, probably when when you and I were growing up, Lindsey, when we thought about sort of the kind of preeminent truly global sport, it probably was football. And basketball has, I don’t know, if it’s a you may have an opinion on this, I don’t have an opinion on whether basketball has has been able to, to ellipse, football, but it has truly become an incredibly global sport. And I think in many ways, sort of the popular lexicon of that is that, you know, the the influence of the 1992 Dream Team and Michael Jordan over the course of the 90s were a big sort of influence on that. But as your as your book explores, obviously, you know, there had been an Olympic sport for a long time. So basketball has been an international sport for a very long time. But how have you seen that sort of, sort of globalization of, of basketball specifically?
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 19:28
That’s a great question. Because I think when, today when we think about globalization of basketball, I think so many people you know, think instantly of the NBA is kind of the marquee brand and style that’s out there. You know, with due rights, but I would argue that when you look at the history of the sport itself, the NBA has been so successful, in part globally because it is not building from scratch, it was going into markets where there already existed and indigenous basketball culture, mostly, when you look at the growth and implementation of basketball, who was invented by a Canadian in Massachusetts in 1891. Within two years, the first basketball games were being played overseas. In Paris, actually, Paris was the first place on European soil to start playing basketball within the next several years. So before the turn of the 20th century, it was being played in certain port towns in China, and Australia, and Brazil, in other parts of Western Europe, including Britain, Portugal, Spain, so there is very clearly an early exploitation due to the YMC educators who brought the game of basketball Do you know the phrase that one of my colleagues, Crystal Bertha has come up with, you know, that they left with the 13 rules of basketball in their suitcases and helped to plant the seeds for a global game. And, you know, when we looked at the evolution of the game, in many countries, it had very little to do with its American counterparts, you know, until at different points in time in different parts of the world based on trajectory of two world wars, Cold War, and so many other things. But when you look at who’s playing basketball, around the globe, by the 1930s, it’s being played across all the continents, maybe not, to the same degree of depth and visibility and popularity as football. And I would argue that’s still the case today, although basketball has been making significant gains, in the past, say 2030 years. It still I do not think has overtaken the walk do sport, that king of sports football. But you know, that’s a challenge question. Can basketball it, you know, overtake in the 21st century. And if you’re to look at how the sports are used and engaged in I would put forward the provocative question is basketball, perhaps, ideally primed to be the sport within the sports diplomacy metric of the 21st century?
Jason Dressel 22:22
Yeah, it’s interesting, because both of those sports, by their nature, they’re very cost efficient, to be able to, to play. And I suspect that that has been part of the reason why those two sports have been so effective and being able to grow and spread because they’re able to supply a lot of maybe socio economic barriers that other sports may have. You know, as I’ve thought about, you know, why is it that basketball has been a easier sport to export, if you will, than American football, or baseball, you know, it’s, some of it is just like, it’s, it’s not as complicated, it doesn’t require as much equipment, it doesn’t necessarily require as much space. You know, some of those other other games are maybe not as immediately transferable. For all those reasons, just in terms of the rules and the kind of infrastructure that you need to be able to play on, it’s, it’s hard to just get a crew together to, you know, play, play real, you know, baseball or football, right. So, um, so what kind of digging into to the book, and it’s specifically focuses on this relationship between the United States and France really kind of through the lens of basketball. So without giving, giving up too much, because we want people to be inspired here from from this conversation to delve more into by the book, which is readily available, and we’ll make sure to link to the hat in the notes. But, you know, what is kind of the thesis of the book and, you know, how did how did the United States in how did the kind of basketball worlds of the United States and France sort of effect there? And how has it continued to affect sort of the broader cultural and political and kind of socio economic factors between the two countries?
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 24:16
So the the main guiding question, throughout the entire book is pretty much how and why did France become a major pipeline of talent into the NBA, WNBA and NCAA, when you look at the historic figures into the NBA, outside of North America, no other country has sent more players to the NBA all time than France. It just kind of surprising when you think about it. You usually think, you know, maybe it’s Serbia or Spain, it is France. And so, you know, well, how and why did that happen is kind of what the book is about, and at its heart. A large part of the answer rests on the nature of for different types of sports diplomacy, so people to people engagements and exchanging of culture technique, so kind of the tactical sides as well as general knowledge through the game of basketball, and it’s a story that spans the Atlantic from France to the US and vice versa, as well as the French Antilles, especially Guadeloupe and Martinique have played a very outsized role in the history of French basketball, as well as Francophone Africa. So kind of the colonial the legacies of France’s colonial era as complicated, complex and negative as those legacies are. They are without, without the Antilles without Francophone Africa. France is not a you know, it’s not, it doesn’t have its basketball Empire. It, it was significantly enriched by those flows of players and coaches and technicians into and out of French hard courts, as well as those from other parts of Europe, too. You know, that. That should be said, but the book does focus on the transatlantic and the African side.
Jason Dressel 26:13
out, so Are most of these players coming directly from France? Are they coming from other areas of the world? I mean, well, the things that I think of there’s just that sort of kind of irony, if you will, between TierPoint, France being the greatest kind of resource or NBA imports, and that conflicting with your point that in, in French society, sports writ large, is not as elevated or as held up on that same pedestal as it is in even other European countries, like, you know, Great Britain, or Spain or Italy.
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 26:57
Yeah, so you know, it gets into different eras of flow. So the more historic part of the book, say up through the year 2000, looks at first the flows of Americans, individuals who went to France, and wound up playing basketball, to quote, one who, whose quote, gives the title to chapter one, I didn’t go to France to play basketball. You know, that was something that found them when they were there. Or basketball was the tool that they used to get to France to go and experience and live a different part of the world to get outside of their bubble in the United States. Part of this kind of early, early flow of players, particularly after 1968, when French rules expanded to allow more foreigners on French teams, instead of just one, foreigner two, a lot of those positions were filled by Americans, and particularly African Americans, who were curious about the world were curious about France had heard that it was a relatively colorblind society. Even though we know in reality, that was not the case. You know, there were different types of discriminations. But those two I spoke to, for the book emphasize that, particularly in the 60s and 70s, and early 1980s, having that American passport was the main prism through which the French would see you. They wouldn’t obviously, they would see your skin color, but they, it was that American passport, that national identity, which was more of a dictation of how they would treat you and they were, they told me they were treated very warmly and very well. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule, but that that is one part of the story. And then starting in 1884, you have more French, you start to have French players coming to play in the NCAA, particularly female players, who began to take advantage of Title Nine basketball scholarships.
Jason Dressel 29:09
Very interesting. There have been some specific sort of things about the relationship between the United States and France that have really been sort of influenced by this basketball kind of sort of infrastructure that the two countries have.
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 29:26
Yeah, you know, I think it’s an interesting example because we, in popular culture, and history, we know a lot about French anti Americanism, even though it’s cyclical, or American Franco phobia, again, cyclical throughout time, whether it’s in the diplomatic relationship, whether it’s culturally remember freedom fries, you know, a while back. But, you know, what we find that drives a lot of the basketball story is both a fascination and intrigue with the other, to the point where they want to go and experience it themselves. They don’t necessarily love everything about that experience, when they’re, you know, engaged in it. The thing I heard most in terms of what French women and men miss most about home during their, you know, us who dreams experience was the food. I’m not surprised. But so things like that. And, you know, so fascination of the other has driven a lot of that story. And I think that all comes down to kind of that, that unique French American relationship that’s propelled by, you know, interest in curiosity as much as it can also be driven by repulsion and disdain. So it’s a really interesting, interesting scenario, I do have to say that, you know, there during my my field work for for the book, which does use media archives, a some government archives, as well, but it’s really predicated on oral history interviews, and with more recent players, media interviews, you know that so it’s really a story as told through the, you know, from the bottom up rather than the top down archives wise, as we usually speak as historians. But so it’s really driven by that personal interaction. And you don’t see the same sorts of cycles of disdain and fascination that you see in other cultural diplomatic business, economic trajectories between the French and Americans.
Jason Dressel 31:42
What were some of the biggest surprises you may have had during the the research process?
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 31:51
There’s two really great ones that immediately come to mind. First, how, when you’re living abroad and speaking a different language you take on the physical mannerisms of that language. I noticed this, particularly with two of the earlier former players who I interviewed. The American Bill Kane, who now has French citizenship as well as the American Henry field two fields, despite living in France full time since 1960, still retains his US citizenship as far as I know. But you know, how, when they would arrive at the cafe, or the meeting place where we were going to do our oral history interview, you know, they, they were indistinguishable from any of the other people, French people out on the streets, they sat in those tiny little pain Cafe chairs, just as any other French person does, even though they were perhaps quite a bit taller than your average person on the street in Paris. But once they switch to English, because I did try to interview particularly those in English, they started to take up more physical space, and their gestures would very much reflect the Americanisms that were coming back to them as they were starting to relive their story in English. So that that was super interesting to note and the, you know, the French, who I interviewed here in the US, regardless of whether they were speaking in English or French, you know, would still have a few of the kind of physical mannerisms of when you speak in French, but by and large, all English expressions or you know, a few of the hand gestures. So, that was something kind of surprising and unexpected as part of the research process. I think the other thing I was surprised at that that really kind of shone through as part of that research was just what vastly different story I was an earthing by speaking to those who lived through it, versus if I were to just have gone from what was in the media accounts or in the archives, or the official publications of the Federation and so forth, that it really kind of illustrated it and brought it to life, and that as much as players were inspired by role models, whether it was Bill Russell, who plays an outsized role in the first half of the book, or Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Tony Parker, it was still the individual experiences and relationships with for the French players, with Americans, with the American players with French counterparts that really helped to shape and guide their own trajectory and allowed them to pursue their passion to some of the highest levels. And so the importance of the role of the individual was something I was most surprised to learn is the process of this and not kind of like the big star individual that we all see on TV, but The relatable that individual who you come into contact with, on an everyday basis.
Jason Dressel 35:07
Yeah. Well, it’s, it’s a really interesting story and just, you know, our conversation is just like such a small kind of proof point for why the I mean, when you look at the NBA right now, it’s like you look at the top 10 best players in the NBA and I think there’s maybe only one of them is actually a North American, right? It just, it’s astonishing, how truly international the game has become and the NBA itself. More broadly, just, you know, considering obviously, your your area of expertise, there’s been, you know, some pretty dramatic changes in sports, both globally, as well as here in the United States, you know, college sports, as we were kind of talking about just sort of the the ethos of sports in the United States and American culture. You know, in IRL name, image likeness is obviously this this huge, huge game changer for for college athletics, and how all that’s going to play out particularly obviously, in the big money sports of football and basketball. And then there’s this other kind of major theme that, of course, has been getting a tremendous amount of attention this year, particularly because of everything that happened with professional golf. And, and that’s this concept of, of sports washing. But that seems to so perfectly align with your, you know, sort of study and interest of sports and diplomacy. So I’m just curious on sort of what your kind of take is on that, you know, obviously, Saudi Arabia is getting a tremendous amount of attention for the moves that they’re making. And I’m just curious what your kind of take is on this concept. And, you know, do you see other countries maybe trying to adopt this kind of strategy of using sort of sports as cultural and economic currency to to advance their agendas?
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 37:06
Yeah, that’s a great question, particularly given the phrase sports washing, which, you know, when you look at who’s been using sports for various different uses, whether for positive or altruistic reasons, globally, or for very less idealistic, more self involved, purposes, such as bolstering bolstering attention away from certain human rights violations, or certain policies or ideologies that are far more restrictive than those enshrined ideally in the Olympic movement or other ethos of the international sports movement. Everyone’s use sports in some way, shape, or form as far back as the rise of modern sports. And you can go back to the ancient, the ancient Greeks as well. keeping the focus on on the present day, I’m not a particular fan of the term sports washing, because it depending upon who’s using it, it can, it can, perhaps crossover into the realms of a anti Eastern or non western bias, right. And we do see a lot of popular accounts using sports washing and pointing fingers at Saudi Arabia at Qatar, who both you know, very much have human rights issues. Among other things, that that the sports scene is helping to eliminate but no others have accused countries like Rwanda, of sports washing of, of China, and so many other regimes. But these are all Westerners who are, you know, saying that I am sure that if people in other parts of the world were to look at, say the United States is upcoming, global mega events, tour de force as host for FIFA 2026, where it’s co hosting for the LA games in 2028, for the Rugby World Cups thereafter, and so forth. And given the decline in certain human rights or civil rights here in this country, they could perhaps say the same thing. So I think sports Washington is kind of like beauty in the eye of the beholder, right. So that’s why I tend to not use that particular phrase. Although, you know, I think when you look at what the Saudi Arabian government officials have been saying about their use of sport recently, that it is to build their kind of economic basis for when the oil money dries up. So They’re not necessarily, as they explain it, they’re not doing so to obscure or elevate their brand, but really to kind of lay the groundwork for continuing the national economy. You know, is that can that really be seen in the same lights as sports washing, which kind of indicates that you’re trying to rinse from public conception your transgressions? So that is the question that I, you know, when I look at how, for example, Qatar has engaged in sports diplomacy, I don’t necessarily agree with it. But the Qataris, I think, have done it very smartly. When you think of 20 years ago, how much did the average person know about Qatar, let alone where in the world it really was today, especially after posting FIFA World Cup 2022, but also all their other investments in the global sports industry, particularly on the business side, many, you know, most people now at least know something of Qatar. And so that is kind of a smart use of sport, whether it is for or ill or for for better.
Jason Dressel 41:18
Well, and I think to bring our conversation sort of full circle, what a wonderful way to integrate conversation. It’s what you speak of there is really a reflection of the importance and popularity of sport to, to humanity. So it’s natural that it gets, you know, whether it’s altruistically to your point, or maybe nefariously. It makes sense why sports is potentially leveraged as currency because it is so important to so many people in so many different cultures around the world.
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 41:57
For sure, yeah.
Jason Dressel 41:59
Well, Lindsay, a fun conversation. Congratulations on on the book. Again. We’re having this conversation sort of on the on the eve of the new NBA season, and of course, the upcoming debut of the new French phenom Victor woman Yama, it was anticipated to be the
next the next great.
And so of course, I have to ask, so how how serendipitous is the timing of this book with with, with the the dawn of the of the women, Yama era.
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 42:36
So this book has been a long time in the making, I first started doing the research in 2015. And it had to be stopped and started at several points over the ensuing years. In 2020, I broaden it to include not just the African dimension, to the extent that it could, but also women’s basketball to tell a more holistic story. I signed my publishing contract, I think a week or two before Mets 92 and Victor Mumbai, Yama went to Las Vegas in October 2022, for their, you know, special showcase against the G league Ignite. And, you know, the that’s when one button Yama mania began to take off and it hasn’t really subsided since so I’m pretty sure my publisher is patting themselves on the back for the the serendipity of the timing. I know it certainly has provided a new and more unique window of opportunity to to talk about the topics that the book brings up particularly in an American market. But you know, it also I think, helps to underscore kind of one of the other sub texts of basketball empire that it’s, it’s about much more than what happens on the court. In the end of the day. It is, you know, a chronicle of what the experience of being overseas or being abroad is like and how it allows you to not just learn about others and other things around you, but also to learn more about yourself and your abilities, your capabilities and what you’re able to do and then to contribute back.
Jason Dressel 44:17
Well, great timing then and congratulations to you and your publisher, but certainly certainly reaffirms the relevance of and timeliness. So of the topic in the book so worthy again, thanks so much for joining us great conversation and best of luck with best of luck with the book.
Dr. Lindsay Krasnoff 44:36
Thanks so much for having me.
Jason Dressel 44:43
Great conversation with Dr. Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff. If you are interested in purchasing her new book, you can buy it directly from the publishers website and receive a 20% discount. Look for that information in the show notes as well as a few other links to learn more about Lindsey His work and some of the topics that we covered. Thanks again to Lindsey for joining. Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the History Factory Podcast. I’m Jason Dressel. Be well
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