Talent is everywhere
It’s a common belief that some races have a genetic advantage leading to high performance. Just look at the superior East African long distance runners or the Jamaican sprinters. If you study the American basketball league NBA you’ll find a similar pattern: a disproportionate number of African American players. The idea of natural black superiority in basketball seems to make a lot of sense, right?
The problem with that theory is that it’s wrong. There’s simply no scientific evidence to support the idea of “the natural black athlete”. As Dr Yannis Pitsiladis, University of Glasgow, has concluded after two decades of research:
“If I had a million dollars I would close this discussion once and for all. I would lay the idea of ‘natural’ black athletes to rest.”
That is not the same as saying that genes are not important, but there is no evidence that exclusive genes have been dished out to specific races. In others words: Talent is everywhere.
For example, very few people know that basketball was a Jewish sport in the 1930’s. After all, the star captain of the original New York Celtics, Nat Holman, was Jewish, as were four of the starters among St. John’s famed ”wonder five,” who ruled college basketball in 30’s.
This Jewish dominance led to the construction of a racialized ‘basketball Jew.’ Jews were believed to have a genetic edge, being endowed by nature with superior balance, greater speed and sharper eyes – not to mention, in the words of one sportswriter, a ”scheming mind” and ”flashy trickiness.” Oddly, though, Jews soon vanished from the top ranks of basketball.
The question is: Will we in 80 years time look back on the African American basketball players the same way that we today look back on the success of the Jewish basketball players in the 1930’s? Will “the natural black athlete” then be just another myth of human genetics?