As the 2012 London Olympic Games approach, controversial statements from a former gold medalist are turning heads when it comes to the black athletes.
Michael Johnson, the 4-time Olympic Gold Medal winning sprinter, is standing by his assertion that black athletes are superior in competition when it comes to sports as a result of their slave descendants.
In his “proof is in the pudding” comments, Johnson said:
"All my life I believed I became an athlete through my own determination, but it's impossible to think that being descended from slaves hasn't left an imprint through the generations.
Difficult as it was to hear, slavery has benefited descendants like me -- I believe there is a superior athletic gene in us.
Over the last few years, athletes of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals. It's a fact that hasn't been discussed openly before. It's a taboo subject in the States but it is what it is. Why shouldn't we discuss it?"
So let’s discuss.
We see the proof everyday that many black athletes are far superior to their white counterparts.
I don’t think Johnson was saying that all black athletes are better than whites, but their athleticism is incomparable to many white athletes who compete at the same level.
Obviously, Johnson was influenced by Jon Entine's book "Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports and Why We're Afraid to Talk About It." Entine breaks down why many black athletes are in so command of their sport.
Through Entine’s research, he found that athletes of primarily West African descent, which includes the majority of U.S. blacks, hold all but six of the 500 best times in the 100-meter race, which he states is "the purest measure of running speed."
Various studies have shown that West African athletes have denser bones, less body fat, narrower hips, thicker thighs, longer legs, and lighter calves than whites.
For example, the highly touted Kenyan runners are small, thin, and tend to weigh between 110 and 132 lbs.
This is a debate that comes along every 20 years or so. In 1988, Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder was fired by CBS after saying that black athletes were naturally superior in part because they had been bred to produce stronger offspring during slavery:
"The black is a better athlete to begin with because he's been bred to be that way, because of his high thighs and big thighs that goes up into his back, and they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs and he's bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War when during the slave trade'n the big… the owner… the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have big black kids see..."
Snyder would later express regret for his comments, saying "What a foolish thing to say." In context, was it that foolish?
History taught us that slave masters would bred their strongest slaves with the most fertile childbearing female taker.
So here we are again discussing the same issue and this time, an actual athlete, a black Olympic sprinter, is saying the same thing.
Snyder’s comments and Johnson’s comments weren’t meant to be racist, even though it’s coming off that way. The point is, the data and what we’ve seen when it comes to black and white athletes makes their argument viable.
Larry Bird is no doubt one of the greatest NBA players to lace them up; his drive and heart of a champion will never be questioned, but he wasn’t the greatest athlete with the best athleticism, he made up for it by being a great shooter, passer and defender. Everyone knows he wasn’t the fastest or strongest person on the court, but he was the toughest.
That “imprint,” as Johnson put it, I believe still exists. Just look at the top two 2012 NFL draft pics, Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck, both sure to be impactful quarterbacks, but as far as athleticism, everyone would agree that Griffin is superior in that category, and his numbers at the NFL combine would prove that. Luck however, is a better passer, decision maker and fits the mold of your typical everyday quarterback.
Griffin has been compared to the more agile and speedier QB’s such as Michael Vick and Cam Newton, who depend on their athleticism and their ability to out run linebackers, elude defensive ends, and fly by cornerbacks, which is what makes them superstar athletes.
Now, I don’t know if there is a "superior athletic gene," but what I do know is that when I look at the athleticism of black athletes throughout history, from Jesse Owens to LeBron James, it’s clear that their athletic ability is why they are so dominant in their fields and why they far surpass their white counterparts.
Shaka Griffith is the News/Politics Editor of GlobalGrind.com Follow him on Twitter @Darealshaka