Honest, But Not PC--Updated
Reggie Rivers chides the Air Force Academy's football coach for being honest:While discussing his team's 48-10 loss to Texas Christian University last weekend, he said: "It's very obvious that they had a lot more Afro-American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did. It just seems to me to be that way, that Afro-American players can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well."
No fooling. Anybody who looks at the field in an NCAA 100-meter dash, or the wide receivers and running backs in the NFL will immediately notice that almost all of them are black.
Criticism of the coach (Fisher DeBerry) has mostly foundered on the racial issue. It's so obvious that even Reggie Rivers admits that he's right. Some others have focused on the "Afro-American" term, which is certainly outmoded, but at least at one point in time was the height of PC. So Rivers tries a different tack:If the question is, "Coach, why did your team lose 48-10?" and the response is, "Well, they had a lot more Afro-American players than we did, and they ran a lot faster than we did," then that implies that the TCU players didn't work harder than the Air Force players. They didn't practice harder, or get into better shape or execute better. They were just naturally faster.
Nice try. But of course, Rivers has no idea about the training habits of the TCU players versus those of the Air Force players and whether that was the difference in the ballgame. And given the fact that Rivers admits that the top black athletes are faster than the top white athletes, it seems somewhat irrelevant.
Bill James, the baseball writer and statistician, did a study a number of years ago that showed not only are black players faster, but they lose their speed at a much slower rate than white guys.
The real reason DeBerry's comments are controversial is that once you acknowledge racial differences in physical ability, it becomes harder to avoid discussing racial differences in mental ability. And before I get accused of racism, let me frankly admit here that it certainly appears that whites are not the top of the brain chain either. Asians do much better on standardized tests.
Let me add here that Rivers' focus may be understandable. The image of the talented but lazy black athlete versus the hard-working, but less-skilled white athlete has been a fixture of sports announcers, reporters and fans for decades. But once we acknowledge that both white and black athletes are hard-working, what are we left with to explain the vast differential in success rates at sports?