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← Is there any genetic evidence to suggest black people are more athletic than white people?

Is there any genetic evidence to suggest black people are more athletic than white people? - Comments

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 1 by Jos Gibbons

The wording could do with improvement. "genetic evidence to suggest black people are more athletic " misses the point that, insofar as there is an athleticism difference, that is a phenotypic difference. Supposing for the sake of the rest of the discussion that there is evidence of such a phenotypic difference$, which your lecturer concedes is so but which he explains in environmental rather than genetic terms, what you're probably asking is whether there is evidence of a genetic component or, more ambitiously, evidence of specific examples of the genetic component. I haven't a clue what are the answers to any of these questions, but I thought I'd spell them out for the benefit of everyone else who discusses this.

$ Having said that, if anyone doesn't agree that that is so, feel free to say so & to explain why. The only thing I'm sure of is hardly anyone is a ethnic group.

Tue, 24 May 2011 11:46:27 UTC | #630214

Outrider's Avatar Comment 2 by Outrider

I can't cite an example, but I do recall reading something to the effect that people of African descent have - on average - a lower centre of balance. This was raised as an issue to me as an explanation for why there are so few top class swimmers of that heritage compared to, for instance, sprinters.

The prevailing belief I'd been exposed to before that was that there was a tendency for black athletes to develop more of the 'fast-twitch' muscle cells and to put their advantage in speed-based events down to that. If that were the case, presumably, they would be excelling in the pool to the same degree?

O.

Tue, 24 May 2011 12:18:36 UTC | #630227

wcapehart's Avatar Comment 3 by wcapehart

I agree with the coach. There are sports that african americans are steered into because that's "what's done." Same goes for other groups. You don't find many african american dart throwers for the same reason you don't see british hockey players (or Kenyan pingpong players, or chinese track stars, or latino surfers, or australian jai alai gods).

And while on the subject, the theory that blacks are more likely to have soul and rhythm is, likewise, demonstrably false, case study here.

Tue, 24 May 2011 14:01:53 UTC | #630259

blitz442's Avatar Comment 4 by blitz442

I tend to disagree, after doing some research. Empirical evidence would suggest that there might be slight biological advantages for certain sports, eg men's 100 meter sprint, long jump, high jump, which are dominated by people of african background. I have no science background, just enjoy reading about evolution, and Richard's books, and would be interested to hear of some evidence.

You have to rule out the possibility that since Africans simply have more genetic diversity, they have more representatives at the extreme levels of performance (both extremely good and extremely bad).

What is interesting to me is that west africans tend to excel in the events you listed (plus most team sports), while east africans tend to dominate distance running. I know that there are certain genetic markers for a fast-twitch muscle profile, so the idea that this profile is not equally distributed among populations may have some basis to it.

For what its worth, I tend to agree with you anecdotally based on years of basketball and organized football (american-style). I'm not sure that "the black kids practice/play more" completely explains all of the differences I experienced, especially on the football field.

Tue, 24 May 2011 16:14:41 UTC | #630312

paulmcuk's Avatar Comment 5 by paulmcuk

Always a tricky subject because it opens the door to people claiming white people are genetically more intelligent, but humans are subject to evolution like anything else and for a long time we developed separately. For example, people who have lived at high altitudes for generations have a greater lung capacity (or something) than those who live at sea level.

I recall seeing a documentary a few years ago that claimed to have identified a gene responsible for the superior long-distance running abilities of (I think) Ethiopians. They even narrowed it down to a very small area where almost everyone (they said) has the capability to be an Olympic standard runner. To prove the point they took some kid who had never run a race in his life an pitted him against a top European distance runner. The kid creamed him.

So there's no reason why some black people might not have something in their genes that makes them better adapted to certain sports, although the example above is the only one I've heard of directly.

The other argument that is often made is essentially a eugenics one - that years of slavery weeded out the weak and left only the strongest and fittest. Can't really comment on whether there is any validity in that.

Whether or not there's an evolutionary advantage, I suspect there is also a socio-economic factor at play. Not just that black kids are steered into certain sports, but that, historically, sport has been a route to success for black people when other avenues were closed. To crudely generalise, sport is something white folks do until they get a proper career whereas black people see it AS a career.

Funny how this question is usually posed as black v white. I doubt many would raise an eyebrow at the suggestion that whites are generally more athletic in certain sports than, say, Pakistani people. Well, the Pakistani people might but you know what I mean.

Tue, 24 May 2011 17:56:40 UTC | #630357

paulmcuk's Avatar Comment 6 by paulmcuk

Always a tricky subject because it opens the door to people claiming white people are genetically more intelligent, but humans are subject to evolution like anything else and for a long time we developed separately. For example, people who have lived at high altitudes for generations have a greater lung capacity (or something) than those who live at sea level.

I recall seeing a documentary a few years ago that claimed to have identified a gene responsible for the superior long-distance running abilities of (I think) Ethiopians. They even narrowed it down to a very small area where almost everyone (they said) has the capability to be an Olympic standard runner. To prove the point they took some kid who had never run a race in his life an pitted him against a top European distance runner. The kid creamed him.

So there's no reason why some black people might not have something in their genes that makes them better adapted to certain sports, although the example above is the only one I've heard of directly.

The other argument that is often made is essentially a eugenics one - that years of slavery weeded out the weak and left only the strongest and fittest. Can't really comment on whether there is any validity in that.

Whether or not there's an evolutionary advantage, I suspect there is also a socio-economic factor at play. Not just that black kids are steered into certain sports, but that, historically, sport has been a route to success for black people when other avenues were closed. To crudely generalise, sport is something white folks do until they get a proper career whereas black people see it AS a career.

Funny how this question is usually posed as black v white. I doubt many would raise an eyebrow at the suggestion that whites are generally more athletic in certain sports than, say, Pakistani people. Well, the Pakistani people might but you know what I mean.

Tue, 24 May 2011 17:57:39 UTC | #630358

Ranting Socrates's Avatar Comment 7 by Ranting Socrates

I think Chris Rock has the correct answer: when blacks were enslaved the whites did not want the weak, fat, short, workers; they wanted the tall, fast, strong, athletic, ones. And, those genes have persisted.

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:20:22 UTC | #630373

wcapehart's Avatar Comment 8 by wcapehart

I'd say that even if there are genetic nuggets that may "nudge" a cluster of individuals towards potentially being able to excel at something slightly better than the next fellow, that's not going to decide your choice of sport, or even if you will be good at it.

I'd take Paul's comment one step further (save for the career thing) and say that S-E factors play most of it. Pardon the cheeky irreverence but once we escape mom and dad's need to cheer us at little league, the objective for most fan-based sports (at least for guys, I can't speak for the ladies) is primal chest thumping and chicks, which makes it pretty much a conduit for natural selection. (Counter exceptions include darts, where the goal is drinking and getting a way from your significant other and your gaggle of offspring for a little while. Not sure if that makes pub sports a self-controling factor on nat-selection to keep the population in check. Dawkins call your office.) But most will gravitate towards a sport for which they are 1) good at, genes or not, 2) there is a market for support & training (see 1) and 3) reward participation and excellence. African American or rich white kids typically don't play jai alai even if they could be wicked-good at it, not because they can't play it but because training for it isn't as available as the local fave and the local girls don't dig it, so they play what's there and what's hot, be it basketball or lacrosse (except the firely Latina that moved into town). Likewise, you can live in Pakistan and be "genetically" inclined to long-discance swimming but chances are, you're gonna play cricket.

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:37:54 UTC | #630380

Valerie_'s Avatar Comment 9 by Valerie_

Comment 7 by Ranting Socrates :

I think Chris Rock has the correct answer: when blacks were enslaved the whites did not want the weak, fat, short, workers; they wanted the tall, fast, strong, athletic, ones. And, those genes have persisted.

But this doesn't explain why today's Ethiopans and Kenyans are such great runners, given that the majority of their direct ancestors stayed in Africa and weren't taken away as slaves.

Also, it stands to reason that many of the fast strong people would have had a better chance to get away from the slave catchers.

Many people don't seem to like the idea that differences in certain areas exist. Yet they do. The Masai are taller as a group than most other ethnic groups. Some ethnic groups have dark skin and others have light skin. Some ethnic groups have lots of blue-eyed people. These things are all obvious and non-controversial and have big genetic components.

So why can't other differences have a genetic component? It's claimed that certain ethnic groups are overrepresented in certain areas because they're "they're steered into it because that's what's done." What if being steered toward something and succeeding there is a natural result of the community as a whole being good at something? People tend to gravitate to things they're good at.

As an example, white Americans love football and basketball and try very hard at these sports. So they encourage their kids in these areas. They also tend to have more money for private coaches and fancy equipment. The greater financial resources should give them an edge.

Yet African-Americans are overrepresented in these sports at the high levels (they comprise 12% of the US population but 75% of pro basketball players and 50% of pro football players are black) . It seems reasonable to at least seriously consider the idea that this is because as a group, they're better at the skills needed in basketball and football than whites are.

If a group's average ability is higher, the group will have more people with the level of talent necessary to compete at the national level.

Tue, 24 May 2011 18:58:33 UTC | #630388

RJMoore's Avatar Comment 10 by RJMoore

For anyone who's interested, there is a book called 'Taboo', by Jon Entine. This question of greater black athleticism is the subject of the book. He makes a very strong argument, after reviewing the evidence, that there are indeed differences between the races and that this is particularly evident in particular sports. The book is about 10 years old, but some statistics jump out; e.g. 98% of the top sprinting times were acheived by athletes of West African ancestry, all 40 finalists of the previous five men's 100m Olympic finals were of this West African ancestry, no white or Asian had run under 10 secs at that stage ( I think this might have been broken recently) etc. His book also details the trouble he had trying to get a honest discussion going because people are afraid of being labelled racist or of being accused of saying blacks are less intelligent. Anyway, its an interesting read.

Tue, 24 May 2011 19:00:16 UTC | #630389

blitz442's Avatar Comment 11 by blitz442

Yet African-Americans are overrepresented in these sports at the high levels (they comprise 12% of the US population but 75% of pro basketball players and 50% of pro football players are black) . It seems reasonable to at least seriously consider the idea that this is because as a group, they're better at the skills needed in basketball and football than whites are.

And if you dig a little deeper, you will find that the so-called "speed" positions are even more strongly represented by black people.*

As others have mentioned, you have to be very careful in going straight to an inherent advantage as an explanation of this state of affairs. This line of thinking has an illustrious record of being retarded.

For example, in the early part of the 20th century there were apparently a fair number of very good Jewish boxers. Their dominance in relation to their small population was used as evidence by some journalists that Jews were naturally better fighters. I'm not sure what is more laughable - the belief that Jews were a "race", or how this stereotype has been turned around 180 degrees.

The moral of the story is that you should not immediately discard social explanations for differences in group performance, even if those differences are profound. Black dominance in boxing is probably explained by the same mechanism that explained Jewish dominance 100 years ago, and that would be low socio-economic status. Inner-city kids are probably much more willing to get beaten up for a living than those of less modest circumstances.

If someone wishes to claim that a race or group has some inherent advantage, for me they have some significant hurdles to clear. For example, let's take the fairly common assertion that black people as a group are better leapers than other groups. I would like to see the following:

  • Clearly define the populations that are being compared (i.e. what do you mean by "black" or "white"?)

  • Explain what you mean by leaping and how you plan to test it.

  • Explain how you plan to control for different exposure levels.

  • Explain kinesthesiology of leaping, and the morphological factors that contribute to good leaping ability. For argument’s sake, let’s say that differences in leaping ability in two groups where exposure has been controlled are best explained by the ratio of fast to slow twitch muscle fibers, body fat levels, length of muscle bellies and tendons, and neurological factors .

  • Relate the physical differences that are known to contribute to leaping to the groups that you are testing. If a short, high calf muscle and long Achilles tendon enhances one’s ability to store elastic energy and leap higher, then you need to establish whether this morphology actually is more prevalent in one population than the other.

  • Establish that the crucial physical differences have a genetic component. Perhaps the ratio of fast to slow twitch muscle fibers in an adult is mainly due to environmental factors (such as the nature and extent of athletic training).

  • If you establish: 1) the physical explanations for differences in leaping ability 2) a difference in the distribution of said physical abilities in the groups you are comparing, and 3) Inherited basis for those differences, and you invoke natural selection to explain how “genes for jumping” came to be distributed differently among the peoples of the world, then just what was it about the respective environments of the populations that had a higher selection pressure for leaping? Or is leaping just a spandrel that piggybacked of some other set of characteristics that were selected for? Or the result of genetic drift?

    Note: I am actually surprised that only 50% of football players are black. If you go by starting line-ups, the % must be greater.

    Tue, 24 May 2011 21:47:51 UTC | #630451

    blitz442's Avatar Comment 12 by blitz442

    Comment 10 by sunrise

    Since this man is claiming black superiority (in at least one area), did he get ripped apart by liberals to the extent that Watson did for suggesting the opposite?

    Tue, 24 May 2011 22:06:55 UTC | #630455

    Valerie_'s Avatar Comment 13 by Valerie_

    Comment 11 by blitz442 :

    As others have mentioned, you have to be very careful in going straight to an inherent advantage as an explanation of this state of affairs. This line of thinking has an illustrious record of being retarded.

    Just to be sure: I didn't say that. I referred to giving serious consideration to a genetic component.

    What bugs me about this topic in general (not what's being said here) is that too many people seem unwilling to even explore the idea that there can be a genetic component in certain phenotypes. I understand that environment can have a big impact on people, from the effects of smoking before birth to poor/excellent diet during infancy and childhood and access to good medical care, etc. But these influences don't mean that an ethnic group can't share genes for being a good distance runner in addition to genes for eye color. I'm not making any claims (not having dug through enough papers and not knowing if enough proper studies have been done): I'm just saying it's possible and it doesn't seem unreasonable.

    Note: I am actually surprised that only 50% of football players are black. If you go by starting line-ups, the % must be greater.

    I pulled the statistic from the margin in this paper. It's old (1996), so the numbers have probably changed. But probably in the direction of more African American players, not less. I just counted faces on a 2006 picture of the New England Patriots and the team was ~62% African American that year. This was only one team, but I'm not going to start counting every team!

    Tue, 24 May 2011 22:43:11 UTC | #630471

    RJMoore's Avatar Comment 14 by RJMoore

    Blitz. No, I think he emphasised so much that he wasnt making any link anything with intelligence or any other trait there was little danger of him being accused of racism! I think his point was that people were terrified to say what to him, after looking at the evidence, was blindingly obvious; they seemed unwilling even to get involved in the debate. I think it is a fair point that socio-economic factors have to be considered, but if you look at boxing, for example, it is a sport that has always needed its champions to start off as poor, fairly ruthless, and 'hungry' young men; its unlikely that those born into privilege would have the stomach for the beatings etc. However, that doesnt explain why virtually all the great heavyweights, especially in modern times, have been black, whereas hispanic fighters seem to do much better in the lighter categories. It would be amazing if only small hispanics have the necessary motivation to succeed. I mean, what odds would you get on the next 100m Olympic final having a white athlete involved? But there are white sprinters competing throughout Europe all the time....you'd think at least the odd one would get through

    Tue, 24 May 2011 22:58:37 UTC | #630479

    blitz442's Avatar Comment 15 by blitz442

    Comment 13 by Valerie_

    I'm not making any claims (not having dug through enough papers and not knowing if enough proper studies have been done): I'm just saying it's possible and it doesn't seem unreasonable.

    I don't disagree at all and would not be surprised if you are right. I just wanted to emphasize the pitfalls when you make this claim and I tried to explicate what would be convincing to me for this hypothesis.

    Tue, 24 May 2011 23:07:52 UTC | #630482

    Valerie_'s Avatar Comment 16 by Valerie_

    Comment 15 by blitz442 :

    I don't disagree at all and would not be surprised if you are right. I just wanted to emphasize the pitfalls when you make this claim and I tried to explicate what would be convincing to me for this hypothesis.

    I figured that. I was just being extra careful so as to avoid a flame war suddenly starting in the event that someone else comes along and decides that I'm making loopy racist claims about the supposed superiority of one group over another. This thread has been refreshingly NOT that way so far.

    I agree that a study would have to be carefully designed and would add that looking at or for specific genes would be an added bonus. I've done a bit of reviewing and you do not want to know how many bogus studies there are out there. Well, you might know anyway....

    Tue, 24 May 2011 23:14:11 UTC | #630487

    blitz442's Avatar Comment 17 by blitz442

    Comment 14 by sunrise

    However, that doesnt explain why virtually all the great heavyweights, especially in modern times, have been black, whereas hispanic fighters seem to do much better in the lighter categories

    No love for John Ruiz? And what about the Eastern European boxers that have dominated the heavyweight division recently?

    But there are white sprinters competing throughout Europe all the time....you'd think at least the odd one would get through

    We all know that Euro guys are lightweights - just look at the England national soccer team.

    Seriously though, a few do slip through from time to time. A month or so ago, college basketball had dunk contest that was won by a 5'10" white kid.

    Tue, 24 May 2011 23:18:14 UTC | #630488

    RJMoore's Avatar Comment 18 by RJMoore

    Blitz. I think I said great heavyweights!! Actually, basketball is an interesting case. I was always under the impression that it was very much the preserve of white college boys in the early to mid 20th century (Im very much open to correction on this point), yet it seems that the vast majority of the NBA stars are black. I dont know if this is related to how the skills of the game are best learned and developed, i.e. on courts in the hood, in much the same way as Pele and Maradona learned their skills on the street; maybe Ive just watched too many movies.

    Tue, 24 May 2011 23:49:38 UTC | #630504

    blitz442's Avatar Comment 19 by blitz442

    Comment 18 by sunrise

    I think I said great heavyweights!!

    So you don't consider the Klitchko (spelling) brothers great heavyweights? Did blacks all of a sudden flee from boxing in the last 15 years? Is this a no true scotsman type of argument (a great heavyweight cannot be white) or is this based on something more substantial (this is objectively a bad era for heavyweights)?

    Tue, 24 May 2011 23:52:51 UTC | #630505

    reebus's Avatar Comment 20 by reebus

    It wouldn't matter if there was. Genetic variation is quite natural and information about a particular racial makeup is useful for personally proactive steps against predispositions or for useful enhancements. But we are not numbers we are individuals: it could be overepresentations of a certain demographic may be just due to selection bias. How do we know that the greatest scientists or thinkers wouldn't be predominantly one of the gender, ethnic or age groups that have been traditionallly or currently repressed? The next Einstein or Feynman may be a burka'd islamic woman in the middle east or an african minority member. The other thing you have to consider is racial interbreeding (inevitable with increasing globalisation and mobility), which will basically already undermine any reliance on genetic factors to group people. Might be you end up with a heavyweight champion which is neither white or black, or likewise even an American president.

    So i think the question is a red herring considering the significance from other factors like universal evolutionary predispositions.

    The last thing is you are assuming is the playing field stays the same: its possible however unlikely that a new strategy selects from a gene/meme/teme pool currently not dominating the activity or sport under the question.

    Wed, 25 May 2011 01:00:06 UTC | #630533

    ccw95005's Avatar Comment 21 by ccw95005

    There are significant differences in facial bone structure among the races, to the extent that you can often identify an individual's region of origin by looks alone, even disregarding skin color. That proves to me that evolution proceeded along a different path for each group that was genetically isolated, which logic would suggest anyway. The body parts and organs presumably developed differently in each segregated group. That includes muscles, blood, brain, bone, and most other organs. How could they not have?

    The concern over offending and fear of being called racist has sometimes led us to ignore the obvious. Gould and Diamond certainly bent over backward to avoid any acknowledgement of racial differences. But if you're a scientist, you should look at the evidence without prejudice.

    It's obvious that a disproportionate number of great athletes are black people. The phrase "White men can't jump" didn't spring up without reason. In the US, running backs, wide receivers, and defensive backs - speed and quickness postions - are mostly black, while quarterbacks, tight ends, and offensive linemen are more diverse. I think a lot of it does have to do with muscular structure, and if physical agility and strength were more important in Africa than in Europe, that would explain why evolution went in that direction.

    It may well be that certain aspects of intelligence or even personality traits are also different among the races, although it's very difficult to tease out the effects of environment. I'm only talking about averages, and that has nothing to do with individuals. Since we deal with individuals and not with group averages, this issue has limited practical significance in the real world. But it's interesting.

    Wed, 25 May 2011 01:03:25 UTC | #630534

    reebus's Avatar Comment 22 by reebus

    Another idea i just had:

    The sports and measures we have today developed with the demographic groups which were not repressed, so that can be another cause of mispresentative numbers: if we had a more global egalitarianism, its possible there would be a greater diversity of sport, athletic or any other measure of prowess which would result in being diversely represented 'replicatorally'. Like in star trek they had the game 'strategenum' as an entertaining fictional example.

    Wed, 25 May 2011 01:29:14 UTC | #630543

    Lou Clifton's Avatar Comment 23 by Lou Clifton

    Comment 21 by ccw95005 :

    There are significant differences in facial bone structure among the races, to the extent that you can often identify an individual's region of origin by looks alone, even disregarding skin color. That proves to me that evolution proceeded along a different path for each group that was genetically isolated, which logic would suggest anyway. The body parts and organs presumably developed differently in each segregated group. That includes muscles, blood, brain, bone, and most other organs. How could they not have?

    Very good points here! I'm glad we have gotten away from the Socio-Economic Status Theory. The whole point of this thread is that there are differences in performance that simply cannot be explained with such "We are all equal" methods. It is so interesting how people try so hard to be open-minded that they close their minds to anything that doesn't seem open-minded enough.

    From the for-pleasure research I have done on this topic, the most convincing theory I have found states that people from Western Africa have more type-II (fast-twich) muscle fibers in their legs, especially glutes, which is why they tend to excel at sprinting. Moving east, there is a greater prevalence of type-I (slow-twitch) muscle fibers in the legs, especially glutes, which cause them to be better long distance runners. Sorry that I don't have any hyper-links on hand, but a well-worded google search will award you with more info. As far as proof for this theory, the racing results speak for themselves!

    Wed, 25 May 2011 03:41:41 UTC | #630582

    SimonG's Avatar Comment 24 by SimonG

    I do recall reading several papers and items a while ago that suggest that certain groups of people with a common ancestory (eg any relatively isolated group of families such as a tribe) can have certain genetic advantages that have "evolved"(using the term very loosly here) from their way of life and environment. For example, spending many generations covering many miles a day hearding livestock in high temperatures. One specific example cited was the Tarahumara tribe in mexico who still run distances over a hundered miles for traditional and communication reasons over rough ground and high altidude (aided by a special carbs rich beer). As well as running barefoot they even have a different running style to that practaced by more conventional athletes. Such a lifestyle would certainly select individuals with high endurance and tolerance to heat and altidude etc. These individuals are most likely to be "prize husbands" and spread their traits to their offspring. Similarly high altitude living, living in a cold or hot climate, even an aquatic ancestory in costal areas could over time select certain traits within a group of individuals which could be enhanced and passed on genetically. It is certainly known that such groups of people can have increased resistance to disease or certain medical conditions (or lower resistance) so it is quite possible other aspects could well be passed on that would give a genetic advantage in athletics as well as health and potentially intelligence.

    The big problem comes with seperating "long term" environmental/evolutionary factors from more localised factors affecting a given generation. For example i the us many african americas live at the poverty line or below it so often make their own entertainment such as playing basketball or football (soccer) on the street which means they have learnt the game from an early age and are simply "better" at it than their white counterparts who are (generally) more affluent and may choose to sit infront of a tv and play basketball for fun rather than because its all there is to do, meaning they are simply less skilled. Or there could be selective reporting or other factors such as race equality laws leading to teams with a bias based on the colour of players rather than their skills.

    Wed, 25 May 2011 04:15:33 UTC | #630584

    ccw95005's Avatar Comment 25 by ccw95005

    Comment 23 by Lou Clifton :

    From the for-pleasure research I have done on this topic, the most convincing theory I have found states that people from Western Africa have more type-II (fast-twich) muscle fibers in their legs, especially glutes, which is why they tend to excel at sprinting. Moving east, there is a greater prevalence of type-I (slow-twitch) muscle fibers in the legs, especially glutes, which cause them to be better long distance runners. Sorry that I don't have any hyper-links on hand, but a well-worded google search will award you with more info. As far as proof for this theory, the racing results speak for themselves!

    Most black Americans are of Western African ancestry and thus have more of the fast twitch muscle fibers, which makes them great runners and jumpers and dominant in sprinting, long jumping, and most other competitive sports. As you said, the East Africans are dominant in long distance races. That tells you that even when groups are not completely reproductively isolated, they still evolve differently; obviously many tribes look different from each other - Hutus, Tutsis, Bushmen, Masai - and Ethiopians look very different from Ghanans.

    Wed, 25 May 2011 05:57:02 UTC | #630602

    TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 26 by TheRationalizer

    People living closer to poles are more likely go be shorter and fatter than the typically taller & thinner people near the equator. I suppose this might make us statistically more likely to find certain events dominated by certain ethnicities.

    Ethiopeans seem to do very well at long distance running events. If it were simply a case of practice then anyone could equal them with a year or two of training. I expect it is more likely that these people run better not because they practiced, but because their ancestors needed to run long distances in order to catch food and feed their children.

    All speculation on my part I must say, I haven't looked at any reports etc - but if enviromental differences can give us different skin colours is it so unlikely they can also give us different physical abilities?

    Wed, 25 May 2011 07:29:10 UTC | #630623

    veggiemanuk's Avatar Comment 27 by veggiemanuk

    Comment 26 by TheRationalizer :

    Ethiopeans seem to do very well at long distance running events. If it were simply a case of practice then anyone could equal them with a year or two of training.

    Did you ever watch Eddie Izzard running 43 marathons in 51 days after just 7 weeks of training? He ran at least 27 miles each day, 6 days a week for 7 weeks straight and without a break. Whilst he might not be world class, it just goes to show what dedication, determination and a little training can do. What he did is a remarkable achievement.

    Edit: Eddie Izzard

    Wed, 25 May 2011 17:16:25 UTC | #630832

    KABOOM's Avatar Comment 28 by KABOOM

    This can be a politcally charged topic. However, here's some things that I've seen:

  • Out of the last 4 Olympic 100 meter finals, all 32 entrants are of West African descent.

  • Kenya (slow twitch glutes) has dominated in distance events. They run everywhere, run ~ 5 miles to school each way growing up etc. They tried to "expand" their track prowess to the sprints as well and so far have logged only the ~ 5,000th fastet 100 meter time.

  • There was an article in Sports Illustrated many years ago that included some data on vertical jumping that clearly showed better results from the sampled African-Americans vs. Whites.

  • Within "Black Africa", there is more genetic diversity than anywhere else on the planet. Hence, there would have been more opportunity through genetic drift, etc for pockets of "fast twitch" leg muscles to be enhanced.

  • The role of Slavery with respect to African-American populations. An awful legacy, but the reality is that many African-Americans have ancestors that were slaves. Slaves were "hand picked" based upon how strong and fit they were and then put to work in a capacity that maximized physicality. So this in concert with the genetic advantage that the West Africa ancestory provides is why African-American athletes dominate sports like basketball, sprinting, football (except for line play and QB).

  • Wed, 25 May 2011 17:46:46 UTC | #630839

    KABOOM's Avatar Comment 29 by KABOOM

    This can be a politcally charged topic. However, here's some things that I've seen:

  • Out of the last 4 Olympic 100 meter finals, all 32 entrants are of West African descent.

  • Kenya (slow twitch glutes) has dominated in distance events. They run everywhere, run ~ 5 miles to school each way growing up etc. They tried to "expand" their track prowess to the sprints as well and so far have logged only the ~ 5,000th fastet 100 meter time.

  • There was an article in Sports Illustrated many years ago that included some data on vertical jumping that clearly showed better results from the sampled African-Americans vs. Whites.

  • Within "Black Africa", there is more genetic diversity than anywhere else on the planet. Hence, there would have been more opportunity through genetic drift, etc for pockets of "fast twitch" leg muscles to be enhanced.

  • The role of Slavery with respect to African-American populations. An awful legacy, but the reality is that many African-Americans have ancestors that were slaves. Slaves were "hand picked" based upon how strong and fit they were and then put to work in a capacity that maximized physicality. So this in concert with the genetic advantage that the West Africa ancestory provides is why African-American athletes dominate sports like basketball, sprinting, football (except for line play and QB).

  • Wed, 25 May 2011 17:47:22 UTC | #630840

    keyfeatures's Avatar Comment 30 by keyfeatures

    To be able to answer the question you would certainly need to be able to come up with a way to adequately define "black" and "white" people. I don't believe this is possible. Surely what you are considering is whether a particular gene or phenotype might give an athletic advantage? This may be possible - but I'm assuming you are not suggesting the particular gene in question is the one that influences skin tone? I can't think of why skin tone would give significant athletic advantage - other than maybe heat regulation in long distance running - but other factors are significant in heat regulation. The gene for skin tone has nothing to do with the gene for fast twitch muscle or other athletic advantageous factors.

    Even if there are genes that confer an advantage you would have to show these only exist - and can only exist - in a host with a particular skin tone. What would you say about someone with parentage from one dark skintoned parent and one light skintoned parent? Could they have the athletic gene? Would you judge them to be "black" or "white"?

    To conclude, I think your question is wrong. It requires a judgement of ability at the level of the host based on a genetically unrelated factor (skin tone). The question instead needs to be asked at the level of the gene.

    Wed, 25 May 2011 18:55:30 UTC | #630857