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Few names are as recognizable in exhibition basketball in America as the Harlem Globetrotters. Founded in 1927, the unique combination of physical comedy and athletic skill on the team made them a spectacle that has endured for nearly a century. Over the course of this time, legendary basketball players like Wilt Chamberlain have played on the court, while famous figures such as Pope John Paul II have been made “Honorary” Globetrotters, helping to show that the team is meant for everyone. This image of unity through the team quickly became one of the most recognizable features of the Harlem Globetrotters, as they targeted anyone interested in watching to tbe part of their audience.
In America, the team has had a long history of being a “barnstorming” team, meaning they travel to numerous venues in order to stage exhibition matches against opposing teams. These shows are always an all-ages affair for the Harlem Globetrotters, as young and old fans from across the country are given the chance to watch the antics of this historic team. When the team began spanning the globe, this theme of unity continued to stay with them, as they undertook such exciting endeavors as touring across the Soviet Union in the midst of the 1980s, despite the Cold War tensions between the USSR and America. Each of their shows sold out, and the universal appeal of the Harlem Globetrotters was further proven.
Though the team initially consisted of all black American men, this mentality has since changed, as the team continues to act as a representative of unity. The first female member of the Globetrotters, former Olympic gold medalist Lynette Woodard, was added to the roster 1985, with the first hispanic member, Orlando Antigua, being recruited ten years later. Today, men and women of all races play on the Harlem Globetrotters, and the team continues to entertain audiences across the nation.
With the advent of forms of media such as television, the Harlem Globetrotters were able to reach an even larger audience. One of the ways in which they did this was with a Saturday morning cartoon show, known as “The Super Globetrotters.” In this series, a group of the Globetrotters most popular players were given superpowers to fight crime and entertain children. The Globetrotters also ended up having numerous additionally appearances over the course of several years, with one of the most recent ones involving them as guest stars on the Travel Channel series “Man Vs. Food Nation.” During this episode, three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team were challenged to eat an almost impossible amount of spicy barbeque. During this challenge, many of the members of the Harlem community encouraging them, unifying numerous people who would otherwise be patrons into a veritable cheerleading group. Still to this day, the Harlem Globetrotters are intensely focused on unifying their fans and creating a family-like following who can all relate over their love of the antics of the team.
“Super Harlem Globetrotters RPG” is an effort to express these beliefs in a different medium than television. The player controls four prospective members of the Harlem Globetrotters in a fictional setting as they learns what it means to be a member of the team and how they serve as a representation of the community that surrounds the exploits of the team. The story is light-hearted and interactive, allowing the player to be a part of it. It’s also done in a manner that is familiar to those who have played videogames in the past, but also is not terribly difficult for those who are not familiar with playing them.
Butler, Robbie. The Harlem Globetrotters: Clown Princes of Basketball. Bloomington ,MN: Red Brick Learning, 2002.
Green, Ben. Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters. New York: Harper-Collins, 2006.
Wilker, Josh. The Harlem Globetrotters. New York: Chelsea House, 1997.
“Racial Pioneer at the University of Illinois Has Turned Around Basketball’s Most Storied Franchise.” Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 55 (2007): 51