Sunday 4 May 2014

LCI 14 A sporty researcher writes

The curse of the “conference proceedings lead to publishing rejection” superstition has struck again. “I am going to try to publish this paper” sporty researcher says, but then asks me to wait until he has completed and submitted it.


Race and Sport

High level sporting success, in different sports, is predicted by (1) Somatotype: Mesomorph (muscular), ectomorph (skinny), and endomorph (fat) (Carter & Heath, 1990) (2) Muscle fibre distribution (3) Lung capacity (4) Various other physical characteristics (5) Psychological differences (especially at a very high level when physical differences are strongly controlled for).

Numerous studies have shown that these differences, which affect sport, are heritable as is sporting ability (see Costa et al., 2012), racial differences in sporting ability begin at a young age, meaning they are partly genetic, and that the races vary in terms of the characteristics that predict success in different sports (Entine, 2000, Epstein, 2013).

The West Africans are highly mesomorph with majority FT fibres, making them fast and powerful but with relatively poor balance, poor flexibility, poor upper body strength and endurance.

East Africans: are ectomorph. Similar to West Africans but weaker and with majority ST fibres and higher lung capacity. This predicts ability in long distance.

East Asians are endomorph. Weak, good upper body strength, flexible, good balance, light bones, more body fat. 50-50 in fibres.

Europeans: Similar to East Asians, but stronger, better upper body strength, less endomorph. This predicts success in shot put and similar events (Carter & Heath, 1990).

As we would predict, amongst men West Africans dominate Olympic sprinting, East Africans dominate long distance and Europeans dominate shout put. Amongst women, the direction is the same but the racial difference is less stark. This is explained by racial differences in sexual dimorphism (Wells, 2012). Rugby is predicted by upper body strength, balance, and endurance. For this reason, blacks are under-represented in top-level English rugby.

Sociological explanations fail because relatively impoverished Pacific Islanders are heavily over-represented in New Zealand international Rugby.

Turning to psychological differences, cheating is predicted by psychopathic personality (Lynn, 2002) and low intelligence (Williams et al., 2007). Blacks have the highest psychopathology (Lynn, 2002) level and the lowest intelligence (Lynn, 2006). Accordingly, it is predicted that blacks are over-represented amongst cheaters and drug abusers in sport. This is the case in the National Football League (US), the National Basketball Association (US), and English Premier League football (UK).

Positions in the National Football League vary with intelligence lines, black players being heavily over-represented in the positions requiring the least intelligence and relatively under-represented in positions requiring the most intelligence. Management is about strategy, requiring intelligence, yet blacks are weakly over-represented amongst NFL coaches. In Premier League football, only one manager (out of 20) is (half) black.

Racial representation in sports requiring strategy is as predicted. Golf requires upper body strength, strategy and fine motor skills, which blacks are low on (Grissmer & Eiseman, 2008). Of the top 30 golfers, 28 are European, one is East Asian and one is mixed race.

Darts requires upper body strength, endurance, balance, fine motor skills and strategy. All Top 30 darts players are European.

Formula 1 requires upper body strength and short reaction times, a correlate of intelligence. One top driver, out of 23, is half black.

Chess is almost entirely a matter of strategy. Lynn (2011) has found that Ashkenazi Jews are highly over-represented in their countries amongst top chess players. Ashkenazi Jews have the highest IQ of any population.

The popularity of sport may mean that this kind of research helps illuminate the factor involved in the issue of intelligence and race differences.

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