basketball net and ball

(Photo by Markus Spiske)

KONSTANZ, Germany — Any athlete will attest that heading out on the road and playing games in front of a rival team’s fans can be tough. However, new findings out of Germany suggest that some basketball players have faced hostile crowds at home as well. Researchers report that during the 2020-2021 NBA season — coinciding with President Donald Trump’s failed re-election bid — immigrant pro athletes playing for teams in regions with stronger far-right political sentiments were more likely to make in-game errors.

All in all, researchers from Konstanz University say their findings highlight the possible detrimental effects of xenophobic views on immigrant workplace performance — both on the playing field and in the office.

Earlier studies have found that in areas with strong support for far-right political ideologies, immigrants, in general, tend to face more prejudice and discrimination than in other regions. Prior evidence also indicates that simply being exposed to anti-immigrant propaganda can influence and hamper an immigrant’s performance on various tasks. Conversely, prior studies have found exposure to negative stereotypes about a certain group of people or demographic may boost the performance of people outside that group.

So, with all of that earlier research in mind, Benjamin Korman, Florian Kunze, and their team hypothesized that living in areas with far-right views may increase immigrants’ awareness of the possibility of being judged negatively, which can eventually disrupt their attention and lead to more errors in the workplace.

To put their hypothesis to the test, they analyzed a dataset encompassing all 522 US-based NBA players’ game performance following the 2020 election campaign of Donald Trump.

Trump 2020 Sign
(© Kristina Blokhin –

This approach led to the discovery that immigrant players on teams based in regions with a higher percentage of presidential votes for President Trump were indeed more likely to make performance errors than immigrant players in regions with less Trump support. Conversely, the opposite was seen for native players in the far-right regions. All of these findings held up even after the research team statistically accounted for multiple other factors that could impact performance, including age, position, ball-possession time, number of possessions, salary, and minutes played.

While this work alone cannot confirm a cause-effect relationship, it does provide real-world evidence supporting the research team’s original hypothesis. Based on these results, researchers believe organizations should take concrete steps to insulate employees from regional far-right views. For example, by banning employees from wearing politically charged clothing or promoting inclusive environments.

Study authors note this work also addressed gaps in management research, which has historically ignored immigrant employees (even highly-skilled workers) and the influence of the local political scene.

“Using data on NBA players, this study highlights how the political environment external to organizations may seep into them, differentially affecting their immigrant and native members,” researchers write in a media release.

The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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About John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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  1. Bob C. says:

    Wow…another “scientific” study supporting leftist politics. And PLOS ONE? No overt bias there… I don’t suppose these “researchers” also looked at the effects on performance by traditionally-C⁴ (conservative, Christian, capitalist and Constitutionalist) college sports teams in those mostly far-left regions, as well? Methinks STUDY FINDS should stick to non-political topics, lest it ostracizes just under (statistically) one-half of its readership…

  2. glen says:

    you are stretching beyond belief to reach your conclusions. Who pays you to dream up such crazy made up cause and effect associations? This is pure garbage. Stop the nuts, now.

  3. stugee1 says:

    The title says it all: One of the most absurd articles I have read in a long time – and that’s saying alot. Amazing how there are never things that are right of center, everything is far right. Yet, there are no similar studies discussing the far left.

  4. Michael says:

    Wow! I don’t think I have seen an article on this site with more explicit bias. Unfortunate that it is on StudyFinds. There is nothing “Scientific” about it. If it attempted to be it surely would have included data from other presidents and poor performance of conservative players in liberal parts of the country. If it affects one side it should affect the other? Or is it just liberal players who have a mental inability to play where someone may not like them? I am an independent voter and I do not come to this site to hear political bias. This is a ridiculously bad article obviously not based in science or truth. I am not a Trump supporter but when you try to tell us that the “immigrant players”, (who make more money than most Americans) are suffering… Poor things… I bet they cried… No wait! None of them complained! Someone just wanted to use their bad shots to say that conservatives, Christians, or any other non-socialist groups are evil racists. This kind of spin is transparent and will be the reason Trump gets re-elected. People are tired are being treated like chattel of the government or liberal media. Many people are waking up and saying no more telling us what to think. Oh well, maybe if Trump does get elected we will be able to afford to pay both the electric and food bills! I must say, you are doing a good job of convincing me who to vote for…