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Sport and diplomacyGames within games$
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Simon Rofe

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526131058

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526131058.001.0001

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Barnstorming Frenchmen: the impact of Paris Université Club’s US tours and the individual in sports diplomacy

Barnstorming Frenchmen: the impact of Paris Université Club’s US tours and the individual in sports diplomacy

Chapter:
(p.130) 7 Barnstorming Frenchmen: the impact of Paris Université Club’s US tours and the individual in sports diplomacy
Source:
Sport and diplomacy
Author(s):
Lindsay Sarah Krasnoff
Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781526131058.003.0008

Meet Martin Feinberg, the sole American basketball player on the storied Paris Université Club (PUC) roster in 1956. That December, Feinberg organized a team tour through the American Midwest, the first such journey undertaken by a French basketball club. PUC’s travels (including a 1962 visit) were not subsidized by the U.S. Government, thus not “official” exchanges. The trips were nevertheless strong examples of sport’s ability to carry social and political messages with deep consequences. Basketball was first played in Europe in 1893 in a small sports hall located at 14, rue de Trévise, in Paris, France. Basketball, however, remained a niche endeavor in a country that favored British sports, notably football and rugby. The young PUC players who traveled to the United States were thus not the “typical” representatives of their generation. Yet, many of them, even the more anti-American Socialists, came away with favorable impressions of France’s sister republic in most matters, save that of race relations. “Barnstorming Frenchmen” examines how the earliest French-American basketball exchanges created lasting impressions on young players in ways traditional diplomacy and diplomats rarely could. Set against the larger context of post-war French anxieties and reconstruction, French-American Cold War diplomacy, and race relations in both countries, these trips are noteworthy.

Keywords:   Basketball diplomacy, Franco-US Relations, Individual diplomacy, Sporting Ambassadors, Unofficial diplomacy

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