Race and Sports Essay

Submitted By gmoreno480
Words: 1794
Pages: 8

“A black player knows he can go out on the court and kick a white player’s ass. Why? Because the black player is conditioned to think he can take the white guy whenever he needs to”.
-Dennis Rodman

Even the most hardened skeptic would recognize the basketball proverb “white men can’t jump” is more than just an exaggeration. African-Americans and blacks have consistently demonstrated that they are better leapers and runners in sports from basketball to high jumping. The question is why. Some schools of thought have proposed that African-Americans dominate athletics because of some superior jumping or strength gene. Vince Lombardi revered NFL Hall of Fame head coach said freely in an interview with Almond Magzine, “I think Negros are more naturally endowed. I think physique has a great deal to do with it. Their muscular development is longer. Their muscles are not as bunched. They have a longer type of muscle. This gives them greater spring and more quickness.” Others argue that because many members of the African American population have fewer opportunities to succeed in other fields therefore some devote themselves to their physical talent areas with dedication unequaled by other ethnic groups. Armed with better-quality attributes by way of training and a stronger motivation to succeed, it is not surprising to see a domination of certain sports. In his featured article in Skeptic Magazine titled “Breaking the Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports And Why We‘re No Longer So Afraid to Talk About It”, journalist John Entine emphasizes:
Athletes who trace their ancestry to western African coastal states, including British, Caribbean and American blacks, are the quickest and best leapers in the world. Consequently, they almost completely monopolize the sprints up to 400 meters. No white, Asian, or East African runners have broken 10 seconds in the 100m. Athletes of West African descent hold the top two hundred times in the 100m—all less than 10 seconds––and 797 of the top 800 times. All 32 finalists in the last four Olympic men’s 100-meter races were West African. The likelihood of that happening based on population numbers alone is 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001. Yet there are no—not one—premier distance runners who trace their ancestry to this region in Africa. (8)
The counterargument is this is far from true and marginalizes them by producing certain negative stereotypes. Blacks do not in fact "dominate" sports, as if ordained by God, but tend to do extremely well in greater numbers at particular sports because of their over-exposure to some sports and under exposure of others.
Let us not forget that whites still dominate the “country club” sports: tennis, golf, swimming, bicycling, and skiing. It is only the fact that there are a plethora of African Americans that excel at the more popular sports that the notion of blacks dominating all athletics emerges. This however is not an entirely true statement. One only has to look into into the systematic racism in the majority of American athletics to show that inclusion to African-Americans is much more important than domination. It is a fact that basketball and track and field have a higher proportion of blacks that play in the amateur and professional ranks. The racial structure of players in the NBA (National Basketball Association) is roughly 80 percent black and 20 percent white, which illustrates the best basketball players in the world are mostly African-Americans. This begs the question, are blacks inherently more talented in basketball than their white counterparts?
To make that assumption, one may be able to suggest that blacks are naturally more violent or prone to criminal behavior, because, according to the U.S. Justice