I chose Jon Entine’s Taboo: Why Black Athletes Dominate Sports And Why We’re Afraid to Talk About It for my book on minority representation in media. This book embarks on a subject that very few have been willing to discuss openly in the past fifty years. Why is the typical black athlete superior to the white athlete? And why do many feel it is wrong to analyze, discuss, or even wonder about something that seems so evident? This book offers the history behind African American athletes in sports and examines the genetic revolution that follows it. Taboo also addresses the circumstances that have made human biodiversity so difficult to approach.
One theory on why blacks have become more athletic than whites is through evolution and selective breeding. Slave owners wanted the biggest and strongest slaves to work on plantations; therefore a strong black man was mated with a strong black woman. Africans were originally brought to America as a physical specimen. They were expected to work the fields day in and day out. In January of 1988 Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, a commentator on CBS’s NFL show made a remark about black athletes that cost him his job. Snyder stated, “Think of what the African slaves were forced to endure in this country merely to survive. Black athletes are their descendants”(Entine 72). The comment quickly surfaced through the media and many people were outraged. Snyder was eventually fired from CBS. Although, according to some, his remarks weren’t far off what from what could be the truth. So why were people so furious by these remarks? Saying that blacks and whites are simply different seem to ignite thoughts of racism. People are terrified to comment on this topic because of the repercussions that may occur. But without research and scientific studies there seems to be no way to reach a conclusion to a very controversial, but evident topic, that blacks are better than whites at sports. Entine makes a very strong argument by stating “No other group of Americans in such large numbers has had to pass such rigorous tests of survival as has the Negro”(73). The history of African slaves and the physicality that was required of them only seems relevant to the evolution of the modern black athlete.
Comments about black athletes made by people affiliated with the media are still stirring controversy to this day. This isn’t something that was just happening in the 60’s and 70’s. There seems to be an ongoing theme of racist remarks being made by the mainly white dominant media about black athletes. There also seems to be a very fine line between racism and sports when it pertains to the media. This line has only gotten thinner over the years.
The most recent occurrence of this was by The Golf Channel’s color commentator Kelly Tilghman. Kelly said -- on the air -- that today's young players should "lynch Tiger Woods in a back alley." It was quite unclear what Tilghman actually meant by this remark. Possibly, that the only way for the younger players to overtake Woods’ stronghold on the field of golf was by hurting him. A very poor choice of words, considering what the history of lynching pertains to and that she was saying this about a black athlete.
Another interesting aspect of this story was Tiger Woods’ reaction to the comments. Tiger told the media in an interview that he had known Kelly for 10 years and that she meant no harm with the comment. He felt it was done and over with. However, members of the black community were upset with Woods’ reaction. Many believed that as a black athlete he had an obligation to be more upset and pursue harsher consequences for Tilghman. It is astonishing that these remarks were made not even a year after the firing of Don Imus for racial slurs. Obviously, the sensitivity of this matter is as high as it has ever been. Any remarks made in, or around the media regarding race is most certainly sure to be put under a microscope. The...