Scott Brooks Brooks shares insights from his years spent coaching young Black men in South Philadelphia. He describes how studying young men’s transition from playing streetball to more formally organized basketball reveals structural patterns of inequality. Drawing from his ﬁ eld observations and life experiences, Brooks stresses the importance of good mentoring practices, particularly for people of color and women
I use a grounded theoretical approach, so getting to the crux of what my data say is oft en diffi cult. Coming up with questions though, in general, isn’t as tough. Th e data provoke questions. For example, one of the key concepts for my book is “known.” Basketball players are stratifi ed into three groups: known, unknown, and scrubs. One day I was speaking to a kid and he began talking about one of his friends in this way, “Jermaine known ‘cause….” And it struck me. I then asked him, “How’d he get known?” I then began searching
for who was known among my players, what it took to get known, and how did players know that they were known. Th is led me to other things like how far did being known travel? Was it a universal status, what were its limits? I followed kids to games that they played outside of our league (Blade Rodgers) to check this out. I found that some of my players were known on their local playgrounds or in their high schools, but not outside their neighborhoods. In this case, I didn’t go into the fi eld specifi cally with the question, “What terms do kids use in stratifying themselves,” but it was defi nitely something I knew was important when I heard it and then a bunch of questions followed as a result. How did I know that the kid said something important? I think that this comes from what we read. Th is is where our sociological literature is important. Reading articles and books by ethnographers who also use a grounded approach oft en helps me. I wonder if some of their ideas are transferable to my study and to determine if so or if not, I compare and contrast our contexts/settings.