Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Superior Athletic Gene Theory

It's always a controversial subject to bring up but with the Olympics looming over us this is the best time to ask the question: 'Why are all the best sprinters black American and Caribbean?'
American 200m and 400m Olympic Champion Michael Johnson thinks he may have the answer and it is all down to a 'superior athletic gene' in the genetic make-up of black athletes.
In his Channel 4 documentary, Survival of the Fastest, Johnson set out a case based on the idea that only the strongest and fittest survived the horrors of the slave trade.
His theory is that the gruelling walks across the continent to the waiting ship in the African ports would account for the weakest and feeblest and up to six months aboard a ship crossing the Atlantic would leave only the strongest and fittest when the ships arrived at their last port of in places like Jamaica. During one voyage to Jamaica in 1732, 170 slaves boarded the ship and only six got off.
Immediately your mind wonders if this was the case then why are no West Africans contesting the sprint finals but Johnson explains this by going on to explain how the tallest, strongest and hardiest were forced into breeding, like cattle, to produce a new generation of strong slaves.
Johnson, who undertook a DNA test during the documentary which confirmed he is of West African descent, pointed to the 2008 Olympic 100m final where of the eight finalists, three were Jamaicans, two came from Trinidad and Tobago, two were Afro-American and one, representing the Netherlands,
was born on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao.
Johnson's theory is backed up by Australian scientists who discovered that a gene named ACTN3 gave performance advantage to the muscles, providing extra power to muscle cells that are required for fast, short bursts of action and is more common in people of West African ancestry than in people
of European ancestry.
What is indisputable is that the Caribbean athletes dominate the sprints but whether it is down to the slave trade and the natural selection of the slave owners is debatable, but Johnson sets out a very strong, and plausible, case.


Nog said...

So Channel 4 has gotten into progressive apologetic scientific neo-racism? How about this theory. Poor folks invest in physical strength proportionality more because it's their only way to move up (or get the hell out). Rich folks can always just go to school and become professionals.

Cheezy said...

Nog: Is 'neo-racism' the same thing as racism? If so, I'm a bit confused... I think that your economic explanation also has some merit (and undoubtedly partially explains the over-representation of black/hispanics among the elite of the boxing world), but a scientific examination of the differences between the various races - as long as it's not performed with a pre-existing racist goal in mind - wouldn't fit my own definition of 'racism'. If it's all in the service of expanding our knowledge about the natural world, then this can only be good thing.

Lucy said...

I'm not sure what you are getting at with the progressive apologetic scientific neo-racism comment either. To my mind what Johnson is describing is a form of natural selection and i think it may have some merit, enough to warrant a serious look at it anyway.
He did also say in the documentary that he couldn't have the conversation there and i think you may have proved his point.

Anonymous said...

many a US commentator, coach, and athlete have lost their job sharing that opinion...

the controversy goes back to the idea 1960’s democratic (far left) argument that all races are "equal" in all ways. the sensitivity being that white crackers used to say negroes are better athletes, but aren't as intelligent – a defense for equal but separate schools, jobs, etc.

for the last 60 years we couldn't say blacks have a genetic advantage because it opens the door the possibility that other races could have intelligence advantages...

so we ignored the fact that Michael Jordan could jump higher and run faster than everyone else and talked about his unmatched work ethic! Truth is he had both traits of course, but no amount of work ethic would enable me (short fat guy) to have a 48” vertical jump. By the way, have you noticed that nobody minds the fact that 50% of Americans are whities, but only 5% of NBA players are crackers?


Cheezy said...

"many a US commentator, coach, and athlete have lost their job sharing that opinion..."

So? Many people over the years, in many walks of life, have been fired for telling the truth. It doesn't affect what the truth is.

"so we ignored the fact that Michael Jordan could jump higher and run faster"

You said it yourself just there. The 'fact'.

Surely you're not advocating a stance whereby, because we haven't been honest in the past, we shouldn't try to be honest from now on?

And I still don't see how this Channel 4 programme was 'racist' by any definition of the word that I understand....

Anonymous said...


the usa went from one double standard of blacks having few or no rights, to "if a black says it is racism then it is", or if an ACLU lawyer, or Rev Jackson, or a long list of deomcratic party politicians. in the late 90's a dude lost his high-level federal appointment because he said someone was "niggardly".

when dealing with politicians or the masses logic, data, and intelligence play no role. it is all emotions and personal power baby!


Cheezy said...

You seem keen to talk about bad things that have happened that bear no relevance to my question:
i.e. how can that programme be racist, if it is honestly & scientifically engaged in a search for the truth?

I'm sure talking about these other matters is cathartic for you, but it just sounds like you're blowing off steam about a bunch of things that bother you, rather than thinking about this question at hand.

Anonymous said...

Your point is obvious and you have my full agreement. My point is that using that logic has cost many a white male their job and not just in sport. The same was true concerning women. Now thouchy points are christianity and homosexuality. Logic, fact, and truth are irrelevant in the Court of public opinion (the wise masses - ha ha ha what a farce)

Cheezy said...

"using that logic has cost many a white male their job"

Sure, I just don't see that as a reasonable excuse for not using logic/science in the future. And I definitely don't see why trying to do so could possibly be racist.

Two wrongs don't make a right.