"Why African Americans Dominate in Sports"

Essay by Nikki18College, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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The predominance of African Americans in sports such as basketball, football, track, and boxing is an extremely sensitive subject. The controversy lies in whether the reason for their success is because of nature or because of nurture. There have been sportscasters who have lost their jobs due to comments they publicly made, such as Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder. He referred to the black success in sports saying, "The black is a better athlete because he is bred to be that way. During slave trading, the slave master would breed his big woman so that he would have a big black kid. That's where it started" (Hisham). This statement caused an uproar and cost Snyder his job.

In the United States, thirteen percent of the population is black, but the NFL is sixty-five percent black, the NBA is nearly eighty percent black, and the WNBA is seventy percent black. During the 1960's, the National Basketball Association's racial breakdown stood at roughly eighty percent white and twenty percent black, today is almost reversed.

A black man has a one-in-4,000 chance of playing in the NBA, compared to a white male's one-in-90,000 chance. In track and field, nearly every men's world record belongs to an African American Athlete, including the top fifteen world running records (Entine).

There are many explanations as to why African Americans excel at sports. On the nature side, there is the "breeder theory". This theory bases everything on genetics, saying African Americans are physically strong, show great endurance at strenuous labor under severe hardships. In a Sports Illustrated article it stated that, "slavery weeded out the weak" (Hisham). However, by saying that African Americans are athletically superior, it is also implying that, due to an age old stereotype, they are intellectually inferior. This is where the stereotype...