The FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM follows up on Michael Byars-Dawson, an American basketball player who’s currently making his living in Iran.
The former Texas high school star talks about the culture shock of playing professionally in the Middle Eastern country. One surprise is how manic Iranian basketball fans can get.
Byars-Dawson remembers one road game where he got into some verbal sparring with the crowd. The fired-up folks responded by throwing coins & water bottles on the court. Even after he was taken out of the game, an angry group gathered behind Byars-Dawson’s bench threatening to kill him.
“It was kind of strange, but I wasn’t worried too much because they were puny little guys.”
He also noticed the Iranian battle of the sexes, which has become a blowout: “Women have to wear scarves on their heads. Everything is segregated.”
Such restrictions means female fans are hard to come by. Byars-Dawson says in certain cities, some ladies can come watch the action, but under strict conditions: “In Tehran…they have to sit on one side of the gym. In my city, women aren’t allowed at games.”
Although he’s paid quite well, Byars-Dawson still deals with many difficult hardships while playing in such a foreign land:
“One of my Iranian teammates ordered pizza, but it’s not like Pizza Hut or Papa John’s. I don’t think they use mozzarella and there is no tomato sauce. Sometimes, it’s not very good, but you just have to survive.”
Maybe Roy Williams can make a special delivery.