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Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports And Why We're Afraid To Talk About It
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Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports And Why We're Afraid To Talk About It [Format Kindle]

Jon Entine

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In virtually every sport in which they are given opportunity to compete, people of African descent dominate. East Africans own every distance running record. Professional sports in the Americas are dominated by men and women of West African descent. Why have blacks come to dominate sports? Are they somehow physically better? And why are we so uncomfortable when we discuss this? Drawing on the latest scientific research, journalist Jon Entine makes an irrefutable case for black athletic superiority. We learn how scientists have used numerous, bogus "scientific" methods to prove that blacks were either more or less superior physically, and how racist scientists have often equated physical prowess with intellectual deficiency. Entine recalls the long, hard road to integration, both on the field and in society. And he shows why it isn't just being black that matters—it makes a huge difference as to where in Africa your ancestors are from.Equal parts sports, science and examination of why this topic is so sensitive, Taboois a book that will spark national debate.

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68 internautes sur 76 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Good, but it takes the long way 9 avril 2003
Par Eric J. Lyman - Publié sur
I find no fault in this book's premise that there are differences between ethnic groups in terms of pure athletic performance and it is a mystery to me how some people find fault in this idea and why it is so politically charged.
But I do find fault in the way Mr. Entine makes his point, and makes it, and makes it, and makes it. This books weighs in at a hefty 400 pages, and it would have benefited from a filter of some kind that would have cut out half of the text by eliminating many of the second, third and fourth examples that illustrate the same points and dull the impact of Mr. Entine's relevant and valuable research and conclusions.
I am not a physiologist, but as a middle distance runner at the university level, a sports journalist for nearly a decade and a keen observer for longer than that, I have seen nothing to make me disagree with Mr. Entine's main points. I do agree with the arguments of those who say there are also cultural factors at play, but to deny the genetic part of the equation does not stand to reason. The opposing view would assume that all types of talent were somehow evenly distributed among the genetic groups.
If that were the case, why are so many great runners from Kenya and Ethiopia but not from, say, Uganda or Zimbabwe (or Mongolia or Bolivia), where conditions are similar but the genetic makeup is different? In the U.S., why do inner city white kids succeed in basketball less often than inner city black kids? From another angle, why, for example, is it rare to see great black swimmers or gymnists, even in proportion to their participation?
That said -- and Mr. Entine makes this point as well, albeit in passing and with some conditions -- none of that gives support to the simple-minded people who write off the accomplishments of successful athletes by pointing to their genetic head start. In global sports competitions that are usually decided by fractions of seconds and millimeters, nobody can succeed without dedication, hard work and discipline at a level that is unfathomable to most of the rest of us.
The point here is that among those who gather the strength and will to work that hard, a few will stand out because of their genetic advantages, and they are the ones who usually go home with the gold medals. Of course, this does not mean that great champions cannot come from other genetic groups, only that this will happen less often. And these great champions should not be looked down upon for who they are, but celebrated -- they represent the best of what humankind can muster in a specific area, just the same as Mozart, or Einstein, or Shakespeare.
67 internautes sur 78 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Disappointed by the book 2 août 2003
Par tcjack - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I bought this book expecting to hear some scientific research as to why black athletes dominate sports and whether there is any statistically significant data proving the point or not. Although there are few pieces of macro scientific information included, I learned nothing new. There was virtually no data comparing similar white and black athletes on reaction time, vertical leaping distance, 100 meter dash times etc.
I also expected to see some data comparing anthropometric differences that may explain better athletic performance, such as the average thigh length or ratio of thigh length to lower leg length.
The book is devoted 90% to the "why we're afraid to talk about it" aspects, that is, the political correctness issue in talking about racial differences. Frankly, this was not why I bought the book so I was mostly disappointed.
30 internautes sur 33 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Athletic skill differences not a black and white issue 10 mai 2001
Par Un client - Publié sur
"Taboo" examines the question that has remained in the back of my mind since my basketball playing days, "Why is the representation of black athletes so completely out of proportion to their population?" Is it really true that, "White men can't jump?" After a brief introduction, including the story of the PC storm that engulfed British physician (and the first four minute miler) Roger Bannister for suggesting that genetics was part of the answer, the book explains the need for research into this topic and scientifically approaches answers to this question by examining biological, social, and historical factors.
This question is so taboo because honest discussion of race and human differences remains such a touchy issue. Especially in the context of sport, human competition, the differences among humans are exemplified. "Taboo" provided insight and allowed me to explore this topic in a non-polemical, even-handed way. Because of a history of prejudice, a white person noticing that black people are better at sports can be seen as judging black people as more primitive or succumbing to "dumb jock" theory. This is not always the case, and this book objectively examines the possibilities.
As Entine makes clear, examining this issue should held eliminate racism, since scientific data demonstrates that the difference among all human beings is relatively small and that skin color is just one of millions of genetic mutations among the human population. "Taboo" examines evolution theories, the most common of which is the Eve theory that states that all human beings share common ancestry.
The depth in which this topic had been studied blows me away. Slowly revealed through pages of evidence, it appears that the cause/effect relationship of ethnicity and athletic capability cannot be explained in terms of black and white, but varying shades of gray. Entine does not claim that blacks are "superior" or "inferior" in any way, just that evolution has left a footprint on different populations. All the training in the world will not turn an Eskimo into an NBA center or a Kenyan into a sprinter.
I was particularly taken by one chapter on how blacks have come to dominate basketball, a sport that Jews dominated in the 1930s. I remember a few years ago when I watched a basketball documentary on TV. I was surprised to discover that my favorite team, the New York Knickerbockers, was at one time composed of Jewish white men. Today it is the complete converse. "Taboo" tells the story of the Philadelphia "Hebrews," the predecessor of the Philadelphia Warriors/76ers. Entine explains the cause to this social revolution and also discusses how Jews of that era were thought to be genetically "trickier," "manipulative," and "deceptive." He uses this comparison to show the danger of facile racial and ethnic stereotypes and to underscore the complex interaction of cultural and genetic factors.
As Entine persuasively shows, social and environmental factors along don't seem to be enough to explain black dominance of so many sports or white dominance of "strength" events such as weightlifting, shot-put, hammer throw etc. Different populations have different physiques and physiological characteristics.
The coverage of black domination in running, especially sprinting, examines the essence of this whole topic. Running is competition in its purest form, without equipment or guidelines. It is simply who can reach the finish line first, and it is usually runners of West African ancestry.
East Africans such as Kenyans, who dominate distance running, have a different genetic history then athletes of West African ancestry (including African Americans), and have quite distinct ectomorphic physiques and physiological characteristics. How could it be that in a radius of sixty miles around Eldoret, Kenya in the Nandi Hills, ninety percent of the top Kenyan world-class athletes (and 40 percent of the world's top distance runners) are produced? Without the training books, special diets, let alone even running shoes, Kenyan runners are still top notch.
As Entine points out time and again, race based on skin color is biologically meaningless but there are some patterned biological differences between populations and sub-populations (he offers great examples of "racial" and "ethnic" differences in disease proclivities, such as the fact that European Jews are more susceptible to Tay-Sachs, northern European whites get MS and cystic fibrosis, and blacks are more likely to get colo-rectal cancer, all the result of gene patterning.
By reading the book I expected to obtain answers, though it was soon clear that Entine was making the case that there was no clear-cut explanation to the success of black athletes. That's what I liked about the book. It didn't beat me over the head with its perspective, although not one could read this book and reamin convinced of the myth that genetics plays no role. The book made me even more curious about this controversial topic that Entine was brave enough to leap into.
"Taboo" takes pains to make clear that athletic skill differences are not a black and white issue. I LOVED this book.
39 internautes sur 45 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 Skip this book and wait for a better effort on the topic 30 août 2000
Par brazos49 - Publié sur
This is a very interesting topic and certainly one worthy of a first class book. Unfortunately, this isn't it. The author's plan for the book seems to me to have been: "Patch together a bunch of anecdotes and ideas and data generally on the subject". Maybe he and his editor didn't feel like they had time to do a good job of research and analysis and present their findings and ideas in a well organized fashion.
This book has some interesting things in it, but I didn't feel it came close to answering (or even clearly addressing) the title topic of "Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk about It". A good book on the subject would look at the data, draw reasoned conclusions and present them along with their supporting data in a persuasive fashion. To me, this book doesn't do that. It's just not tied together well.
If I were you, I'd skip this book and wait for a better effort on the topic.
52 internautes sur 62 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 this book is ultimately misleading 28 octobre 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur
I think Jon Entine touches upon an interesting subject, but proceeds to go about examining the subject in a misleading and ultimately unsatisfying way. He recognizes that there might be something in the african physiology which may make blacks better athletes, but fails to counter this assertion with the equal knowledge we have that, although there are some instances where blacks may be slightly superior athletically, there are also areas where whites have a physical edge over blacks. He seems to rely on exceptions to general rules to prove his "points." He fails to realize that ONE Tiger Woods (who is NOT just black but also Oriental) does not mean that ALL black people are these geniuses at golf, and that ONE wealthy Donovan Bailey means that ALL good black sprinters are middle-class. Similarly, just because Keith Van Horn and Jayson Williams are probably better than a huge number of black NBA players, doesn't mean that all of a sudden white people are super basketball players when compared to blacks. Entine fails to acknowledge that, if anything, blacks are only "better" at some sports, and that people from other races can claim to be better at different sports. Entine comes off as trying to claim that there is blanket evidence for black superiority across the board, and that is simply not true, and not supported by any statistic or olympics. Look at the final for any major international decathalon and you will see that almost all of the best athletes in these events are white, and evidence shows that whites are very good at multi-dicipline sports. I compare success in a decathalon to success in school. Nobody gives a rat's a-- if you get an 'A' in history, but flunk every other class. A Decathalon is, in my opinion, going through the sporting world with a 3.0 average. Not the best, and not as good as getting an 'A' in the 100 meters, but definitely respectable. Entine should realize that when he goes through all this trouble to claim that blacks are superior in sports that his same evidence can be used to claim that whites are the world's best all around athletes. There is a lot of evidence to support this, but, conversely, there can also be evidence to deny it. Entine ultimately fails to raelize that the concept of "sports" isn't merely a matter of who can cross the finish line in one event with an 'A' grade.
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In the mid-1960s the racial breakdown in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was 80 percent white, 20 percent black; today its almost exactly reversedthe NBA is more than 85 percent black. Womens pro basketball is 75 percent African American. &quote;
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White athletes appear to have a physique between West Africans and East Africans. &quote;
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the most prodigious workout in running: twenty repeats of 200 meters in 26 seconds with a one-minute rest in between; a five-minute rest, then another twenty 200s, again with only a minute between each repeat. The total time running is only 17 minutes, during which Kipketer covers about 5 miles. &quote;
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