Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports And Why Were Afraid To Talk About It

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Journalist and award-winning TV producer Entine writes lucidly about a forbidden topic. After O. Sure, African-Americans dominate major American sports, but even. The middle chapters explore the checkered history of. Two centuries before the NBA, whites marveled at the slaves' superior athleticism. Readers discover that Paul Robeson, the actor-singer-communist,. Entine compares the defiant boxing champ Jack Johnson to Dennis Rodman.

Human Biology

When he beat "the Great White Hope" in ,. Jesse Owens's and Joe Louis's victories mocked. The more recently fashionable environmental approach to the question is weakened.

Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports - Jon Entine and Stefan Molyneux

Scandinavian and African runners, and studies of the jumping ability of various races. The heavier bone density of whites may help them dominate swimming, though this is also one of the expensive, country club. Courageous enough to ask tough questions about the uneven playing field, forthright enough to present hard evidence. There was a problem adding your email address.

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Describe the connection issue. SearchWorks Catalog Stanford Libraries. Taboo : why black athletes dominate sports and why we are afraid to talk about it. Responsibility Jon Entine. Imprint New York : PublicAffairs, Physical description ix, p. Preliminary research suggests that different phenotypes are at least partially encoded in the genes -- conferring genotypic differences, which may result in an advantage in some sports.

But all such differences are mediated through experience, from our prenatal health to the educational opportunities while growing up. In other words, our environment and culture can enhance or diminish whatever tiny variations linked to evolution that may exist.


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  5. Considering the wide variation within each geographic, racial, and ethnic population, such differences may appear minuscule, but at the elite level, they are the stuff of champions. These inbred differences influence who does how well and in what sports. Asians, who constitute about 57 percent of the world's population, are virtually invisible in the most democratic of world sports, running, soccer, and basketball. The smallest of the major "races," those with sub-Saharan African ancestry, comprise approximately 12 percent of the world's 6 billion population, yet their hold on many sports, particularly running, is staggering.

    In the United States, 13 percent of the population is black. In the mids the racial breakdown in the National Basketball Association NBA was 80 percent white, 20 percent black; today it's almost exactly reversed. Women's pro basketball is 70 percent African American. In college, 60 percent of men's basketball players and nearly 50 percent of football players are African Americans.

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    Becoming a professional athlete is still a long-shot for aspiring teenagers, but it's a lot longer for whites. A black male would have about 1 chance in 4, of playing in the NBA, as compared to about a 1 in 90, shot for a white. And even as African Americans are abandoning baseball in droves for basketball and football, more than one-third of Major League Baseball and a higher percentage of the top stars are blacks from North and Latin America.

    Even these eye-popping numbers grossly understate the trends.

    Check the NBA statistics: not one white player has finished among the top scorers or rebounders in recent years. White running backs, cornerbacks, or wide receivers in the NFL? Count them on one hand. Roll the calendar back decades, to the s, to find the last time a white led baseball in steals. A white male toeing the line at an Olympic meter final?

    Not in decades. It may happen. In some future decade. But don't hold your breath. There is a new racial barrier in sports.


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    Positions that require speed and jumping ability are almost exclusively black. In street parlance this phenomenon is blamed on a malady, virulently infectious but apparently limited to Caucasians -- white man's disease. Standing 5 feet, 7 inches tall in high-tops, former NBA guard Spud Webb used to dunk the ball in warm-ups. Even Mugsy Bogues, 5 feet, 3 inches short, can dunk.

    White players, many of whom line the bench, wonder what kind of future they have. This is a worldwide phenomenon. Black athletes are now stars in many western countries, from Europe to Asia. For example, tiny Senegal, population 8 million in a country the size of South Dakota, has seventeen citizens playing college basketball in the United States as of It has also sent dozens of athletes to play in professional basketball leagues in Greece, France, and Israel.

    In a nation with just one indoor basketball court, it is a triumph of natural talent and tremendous desire over almost insurmountable odds. That familiar trend is readily apparent in the world's most popular team sport, soccer. Nigeria won the Olympic gold medal in and qualified two years later for the World Cup along with Cameroon, Tunisia, and South Africa. With the global hopscotching of top players, Africans have become fixtures in Europe's top clubs, even with sharp restrictions on signing foreign players.

    The Netherlands national team, which made it to the semifinals in the '98 World Cup, includes stars from Suriname, and is about one-third black. France, winner of the World Cup, has a large contingent of players of African descent, including Ghana-born Marcel Desailly, one of the heroes of the World Cup.

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    FACT OR FICTION - Los Angeles Times

    Even in England, which was slow to allow foreigners and has a black population of less than 2 percent, 1 in 5 professional soccer players is black. As the world playing field continues to level, natural abilities are more likely to come to the fore. The Japanese are disciplined and very competitive, yet because of their small stature -- a result of evolutionary forces -- they make better ice skaters, marathoners, and sumo wrestlers than basketball players or sprinters.

    Is it more than just cultural serendipity that Brazilians are time and again the best soccer players, the Chinese among the best divers, black Dominicans among the best baseball players, and African Americans the top basketball and football players? Clearly, "racial" patterns in sports do not lend themselves to a facile black and white explanation. The relative dearth of black players in baseball -- about one in six major leaguers is African American -- is frequently cited as proof that blacks do not dominate sports.

    When a "racial report card" published a few years ago by Northeastern University's Center for The Study of Sport in Society noted that the percentage of black baseball players had fallen slightly, an outraged editorial entitled "A White Man's Place to Be" appeared in the New York Times.

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