The Harlem globetrotters are one of the most recognizable teams in the world of sports, while having the unique trait of not actually playing in any professional league. Sporting (no pun intended) a history that began far back in 1927 they preceded the formation of the NBA. The original Harlem Globetrotters (not originally coming from Harlem, but just associated with the neighborhood’s rich African American community) were one of the first professional basketball teams and would compete against rivals, using flair and athletic prowess; traits still evident today some 70 years later.
Taking on a global audience the Harlem Globetrotters are currently mid-way through an extensive Italy Tour, and I had the fortune to watch them recently. They are still dressed in the recognizable All-American blue white and red jerseys, but these days the shows have taken a much more kids friendly approach, with goofy physical and childish humour done by huge 2 metre tall basketball players. Each player on the team has a unique character, which the audience members come to learn throughout the night. The show is very family friendly, and can be considered part theatre, as the players often will take dance breaks which the whole audience can become a part of. Actually, more dancing happens than basketball.
While the jokes may sometimes fall flat with adult audiences, children cannot get enough of their slapstick humour, which they often use to engage the audience to be vocal in their numerous attempts at outwitting the referee. This type of physical humour can cross both language and age barriers. The Globetrotters play a full game of basketball, but the game takes a back seat to the antics that occur on and off the court. This is where the players really excel as entertainers, as they use many opportunities to engage the people in the stands. Posing questions to the audience, bringing children onto the court and involving water to douse the unsuspecting audience. Interspersed among the numerous slapstick jokes are many circus tricks and skills that the players do with gusto. Impressive passing, alley-oops and monster slam-dunks are enjoyed by all ages. There are also 4 point areas close to half way, which looked like it was a piece of cake for the players. The sheer strength and athleticism is very cool to see, especially from the courtside seats that I was fortunate enough to be in.
If you have happen to have some children who you believe would be interested in witnessing some amazing basketball skills and slapstick humour, then I would recommend to make a family affair of it and see them!