Last week a fleet and strong group of Texas Christian University football players enveloped and routed the future military officers of the Air Force Academy. The score was 48-10. A couple of days later losing coach Fisher DeBerry, who has long guided modestly talented teams to overachievement, said TCU “had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did. That doesn’t mean Caucasian kids and other descents can’t run, but it’s very obvious to me that (blacks) run extremely well.”
Since that was reported, DeBerry has been barraged by criticism and called insensitive and anachronistic and perhaps even racist. The new academy superintendent ordered him to report for a reprimand. Like a good civilian soldier, DeBerry complied. Afterward, the coach said, “I have made a mistake and ask for everyone’s forgiveness.” The solemn athletic director then proclaimed, “The academy has a zero-tolerance policy for any racial or ethnic discrimination or discrimination of any kind…It was a seriously, seriously inappropriate comment.”
In fact, it was an accurate statement, and one that should have been interpreted as a compliment, which is likely how the TCU players received it. No forthright viewer of sports can logically refute DeBerry’s observation. One desperate-to-sound-righteous reporter from Sports Illustrated tried, noting that some white guys are fast and some black guys are fast and so are some people from every race and after all white Jeremy Wariner won the 2004 Olympic gold medal in the 400 meter dash. Please – reporter, superintendent, athletic director – stop pretending.
Black athletes are demonstrably superior in every sport they commit to en masse. Every four years almost all the Olympic finalists in the 100, 200 and 400 meters dashes are black. The distance events are dominated by Kenyans. Have you ever seen a boxing match? Name the 10 greatest heavyweights of all time; anyone who includes a white fighter either doesn’t know boxing or is challenging Pinocchio. How about basketball? The eight finest players ever are, in chronological order, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tim Duncan. Only Bird is white. Out of the top 100 performers in the game today, at least 90 are black.
How about football? Ask yourself who’s putting the ball in the end zone. Roughly eighty percent of touchdowns are scored by blacks. Who’s trying to prevent that? Defenses loaded with the most qualified (i.e. fastest) people. How many white cornerbacks do you see in the National Football League? I don’t see any. And the notion has actually become ludicrous – a white cornerback Maybe there’ll be another one someday, but probably not this century.
Well, look at baseball, some folks breathlessly say. Most players are white. That’s true. Baseball doesn’t interest young blacks like football, basketball, and track. Nevertheless, ask an easy question: who are the finest baseball players since 1947 when Jackie Robinson modernized the game and energized the civil rights movement? The first three eternally great players after that point were Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, and Hank Aaron. Mantle was white. Who are the preeminent players today? They’re Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols. But Pujols is from the Caribbean and Rodriguez is of the same ancestry, it is eagerly stated. That doesn’t matter. If Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, the segregationist who ruled Major League baseball in the decades before World War II, were here, he’d tell you: they’re black. They wouldn’t have been allowed in the game in his era. (Parenthetically, wouldn’t it be nice to bring that bigot back in a time machine and let Bob Gibson throw a high hard one under his chin?)
How many professional black golfers are there? There is precisely one. His name is Tiger Woods. In his 20’s he won 10 major championships and frequently made even great golfers look inadequate. How many players of African descent play pro tennis? Very few. Two of them are Venus and Serena Williams. Both have been ranked number one in the world. Serena once won four straight Grand Slam titles.
Any sports fan could write pages about the above information. That’s not necessary. The point is clear. But, as DeBerry indicated, that doesn’t mean people from all other races can’t run and play very well. They can. They do. One has to be careful with generalizations, but I’m wholesomely comfortable with this one: all peoples are very talented in all areas.
When candid souls make public statements like DeBerry’s, the outraged and righteous responses really are not related to sports. The concern, instead, is this: if the obvious is acknowledged, that blacks are better athletes, then some, perhaps many, will infer, will perhaps even trumpet that logically there must be other intrinsic differences between the races. Maybe, some will say, there are natural differences in intelligence.
Don’t worry about that one. Millions of us may be sports experts but none of us has discovered the most profound secrets of evolution. We know only this: children who are well fed and cared for and who study hard do well in school and, later, in any profession they choose. All peoples have the capacity to do well in all endeavors. And in most pursuits, unlike sports, there’s no reason to try to keep score.