Winter Races—And The Races Of Man

"So try not to
laugh when someone says these are the world`s greatest
athletes, despite a

paucity of blacks
makes the Winter Games
look like a

GOP convention.
on HBO`s

Real Sports

Last fall, the Air Force Academy`s distinguished football

Fisher DeBerry
was put through the wringer by

white sportswriters
for alleged racial

His crime: Mentioning that

black players
tend to be faster than

white players.

But newscaster Gumbel`s statement, quoted above, has
been met with little outcry, so far.

Why the difference?

Well, unlike DeBerry, Gumbel is black. Everyone

already knows

less of a fan of white men
than he is of white
women, such as the

trophy wife for whom he traded in

his black first wife of 26 years

And everybody knows these periodic "two
minute hates
directed by

white sportswriters
at white sportsmen

too old fashioned
to avoid blurting out the truth
have very little to do with blacks, per se. This is just
a white-on-white war over status. Blacks are free to say
whatever they feel like because white journalists seldom
consider them



are already

playing up
the 1000 meter speedskating gold medal
won by the African-American Shani Davis as an epochal
social breakthrough, one that will finally unleash the

cleansing power of diversity
on the white bread
Winter Olympics.

It won`t. The truth is that African-Americans` sporting
interests have been getting less diverse, as they

focus ever more
on their strong suits, basketball
and football.

For example, when Tiger Woods, who is

one-quarter black
, won the Masters nine years ago,
it was widely predicted that blacks would soon flood the
ranks of pro golf.  

Instead, the

opposite has happened
. Between 1964 and 1986, five
black pros (Pete Brown, Charlie Sifford, Lee Elder,
Calvin Peete and Jim Thorpe) won a total of 23 PGA
tournaments. But in the 20 years since, no black other
than Woods has won.


Arthur Ashe
won the U.S. Open tennis tournament 38
years ago. But no African-American man has won a major
championship since him.


Wendell Scott
, a black driver, won a NASCAR stock
car race back in 1963. But

African-American interest
in motor sports is

minimal today.

The African-American share of major league baseball
rosters has fallen from 27 percent in 1974 to 9 percent
last year. Last fall, home run king

Hank Aaron
criticized the Houston Astros for having
no African-American players. (But that black lack didn`t
stop the team from winning the National League pennant.)

The unmentionable truth: human beings like to hang
out with people like themselves

And they will develop institutions to allow them to do

For instance, the

middle of February
was traditionally the deadest
time of the year in sports. But today, Sunday, February
19, was full of events that have turned into de facto
ethnic pride celebrations.


NBA All-Star game
is instantly forgettable as a
basketball contest, with both teams going up and down
and up and down the court scoring at will, with any
attempt at playing defense being considered an
intolerable faux pas. But as a weekend,
the NBA All-Star game has turned into the most glamorous
date on the calendar for well-heeled African-Americans,
who fly in by the thousands to whichever city is hosting

The Daytona 500, NASCAR`s biggest race, also often
baffles the uninitiated who tune in and can`t quite
figure out

the appeal
of watching stock cars go around and
around and around … and around some more. But NASCAR`s
huge popularity owes much to having evolved into a
covert ethnic pride extravaganza for one of the few
groups who aren`t allowed to honor themselves in public:

Red State whites
of Northern European descent.

The Winter Olympics… its fans are indeed, as Bryant
Gumbel noted,  largely limited to Europeans north of the
Mediterranean climatic zone, and to their cultural
clones in North America (especially in Canada and
America`s Blue States, which tend to be snowier) and
Northeast Asia.

These demographic facts so outraged Washington Post
staffer Paul Farhi that he wrote an op-ed denouncing the
Winter Olympics as the cynosure of "elitism,
exclusion and the triumph of the world`s sporting haves
over its have nots… the preserve of a narrow, generally
wealthy, predominantly Caucasian collection of athletes
and nations."
the Rich and Elite Meet to Compete
, February 5,

But I think something more profound is going on.

With the exceptions of ice hockey, figure skating, and
this new downhill demolition derby called

, the Winter Olympics consists of
events that aren`t really good enough spectator sports
to be endured more than once every four years.

Many require admirable levels of precision, discipline,
and courage. But those virtues don`t necessarily
televise well. It`s slippery out there and catastrophes
could ensue if athletes competed directly, so only one
person or team goes at a time. The play-by-plays tend to
sound like this:

"And off goes
Schievenhoffel. He`s going really fast. Man, he`s
flying! He`s very quick! Wow, he`s fast! Fast, fast,
fast! And there`s his time: oh, well, he just wasn`t
quite fast enough…"

Watching at home, it all looks like a blur. But that`s
the appeal to the competitors—disentangling what
actually happened and making precise adjustments under
terrifying pressure. After each run, the team studies
replays of the race in slow motion until they figure out
that the reason Gunther was 0.06 seconds slower than
expected was because in Turn 8 he bent his left ankle at
45 degrees instead of 60 degrees.

In general, there is a paradoxical positive correlation
between how repetitious a sport is and the educational
level of its enthusiasts. Sports where athletes make
subtle adjustments in technique as they do the same
thing over and over appeal more to higher IQ people.

Rowing, for instance
, is popular in Cambridge,
Massachusetts and Cambridge, England, but in not too
many other places.

In contrast, sports where competitors have to make
non-stop decisions like


, and

appeal strongly to people at lower levels of
the educational ladder.

Winter Olympics events like the bobsled and luge are the
kind of sports that appeal to the nerdier mind. The
nerds get pushed around by the basketball and football
players in high school—but in the long run, we`re all
dependent on the technological inventiveness of our

Perhaps it`s just a malign coincidence that expensive
sports requiring technical obsessiveness, like many of

Winter Olympic
events, flourish most in the
technically advanced societies that can afford them.

But then, that just raises the question of why the Ice
People (to use the terminology of CUNY Black Studies

Leonard Jeffries)
are so much more

economically productive
than the

Sun People

Don`t expect this question to be explored in the
Washington Post
any time soon.

That`s what

is for!

[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and

movie critic

The American Conservative
His website
features his daily