Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
The Harlem Globetrotters

The Harlem Globetrotters
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.43

     challenging words:    exhibition, pre-game, reverend, sweetwater, valid, tremendous, entertainment, promoter, documentary, based, renamed, warm-ups, professional, dribble, champs, criticism
     content words:    Georgia Brown, Harlem Globetrotters, Chuck Cooper, Negro American Legion League, Giles Post, Savoy Big Five, Abe Saperstein, Big Five, New York City, Washington Generals

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The Harlem Globetrotters
By Jane Runyon

1     Ask any adult what he or she thinks of when hearing someone whistle the tune "Sweet Georgia Brown." Chances are that person thinks about the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. The team used this music as a background for their pre-game warm-up. The Globetrotters have been entertaining people all over the world since 1927. The story of the Globetrotters goes back farther than that, however.
2     Let's start at the beginning. There were no black professional basketball players in the first half of the 1900's. The first black athlete to break the basketball color line was Chuck Cooper in 1950. In the 1920's there was the Negro American Legion League. One of the teams in this league was the Giles Post. In 1927, this team decided to become a professional team. They changed their name to the Savoy Big Five.
3     A white sports promoter named Abe Saperstein saw the Savoy Big Five play. He liked what he saw. He took all of his savings and bought the team. They were based in Chicago, Illinois. Saperstein saw his team as a way to promote sports to the black community. He renamed them the Harlem Globetrotters. Harlem is a predominantly black area of New York City. Abe wanted people to think of rich, black tradition when they heard the name Harlem.
4     The Globetrotters began to compete as a serious team. They played well. When black players were accepted on professional teams, it was hard for the Globetrotters. Talented black players could earn more money playing for pro teams. Saperstein had a plan.
5     Abe Saperstein saw that his team had incredible talent. Not only could they play basketball, they had other athletic skills. Some could dribble the basketball with perfect precision. Some could shoot from distances never seen in an actual game. Some could spin the ball on their fingertips. Some could juggle three even four basketballs at a time. Saperstein had seen most of these skills displayed in practices and warm-ups. He decided to put these skills into games. His idea was to add entertainment and create a whole new game for the audience.

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Black History and Blacks in U.S. History
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