Why are most sprinters African-American

  1. This is not intended to be taken as racism. I am simply asking why, at an Olympic level, most short distance sprinters are African American black? I have heard that it is attributed to the foot bone being different, and also being blamed on the carbohydrate full yams that make up a huge part of Caribbean diets. Is there a biological reason for this dominancy on the track, or not?

  2. jcsd
  3. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Only mentions that subjects are males.
  4. Office_Shredder

    Office_Shredder 4,487
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I don't think it is a diet factor; in the NFL the wide receiver, running back and cornerback positions are the ones which require the most speed by the position holders, and are also the ones which are most predominantly black. This is dated by a couple years but is still probably close to the current numbers


    There is probably an element of racism in this statistic. For example offensive line and defensive line have very similar athletic requirements, but it is commonly believed that the offensive line position requires more intelligence as the blocking schemes are more complex. The offensive line position has a greater white to black ratio than the defensive line, and the hypothesis is that coaches are racist and think black players cannot handle the offensive line demands.

    Similarly someone who is white and fast is less likely to stay at cornerback or wide receiver and be moved to a different position because coaches also think that white people aren't as fast as black people, but the incredible dominance of the positions suggests that it cannot be entirely because of that effect.
  5. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Just to note that the term "black" is more relevant in this context as "African-American" only refers to people of black ethnicity in one nation.

    There have been many papers published looking into muscle differences between ethnicities but AFAIK there isn't a consensus. I'm posting from my mobile so can't post links but I'd suggest just going to google scholar or pubmed and typing in search terms like "black athlete and fast twitch fibre" and the like.
  6. Biology and genetics are the answer,

    black people have adapted to the warmest climates on earth and thus developed a larger surface to volume ratio in their bodies.

    This physique involves being tall, and skinny. Which is the build of a sprinter. I think the answer lies largely in bone structure,

    Also I have heard that animals in warmer regions have higher metabolism and are less prone to saving energy, thus the white and asian races may have more emphasis on endurance, while the black racial groups have in warmer regions developed sprinting capabilities less hindered by energy costs. But that is just speculations.

    The answer lies in the environments of the races. And no, it is not a cultural or social thing lol.
  7. Borek

    Staff: Mentor

    Doesn't sound correct when you take into account African runners dominate middle distances as well (and are quite strong at long distances).
  8. Jamaicans excel at sprint events. One reason is that athletics are taken very seriously over there.
  9. Hm, you're right, could be related to the fact that they used to run down their prey not so long ago. In africa today there are still hunter gatherers who use this method, while other regions committed to agriculture much earlier in history then africa.
  10. Apologies if any of this comes across racist.

    I've noticed this as well that black people are usually taller, stronger, faster and just all round better athletes on a whole and could this not be attributed to slavery? All the weaker males were killed and the stronger, taller males passed on their genes and it's basically like filtering out the weaker genes ensuring that the black population would continue to give birth to strong healthy babies?

    That coupled with intense labour and hard work leads to a much stronger, faster, healthier black population. Also couple that with their already fast, strong nature of living if africa, evading predators, running them down, chasing them on foot for days ect. Isn't this the reason why africans are better long distant runners generally? I hope I'm not offending anyone here this is just my thoughts but I'm not sure if it has anything to play in the OP's questions.
  11. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Please provide sources, speculation is not acceptable.
    The slave trade ran for a very short amount of time relative to what we are talking about. It could not have an affect.

    To reiterate to all posters: no personal speculation. Links to published studies only.
  12. russ_watters

    Staff: Mentor

    Are there studies of the potentially relevant socioeconomic and geographical issues?
  13. ehm, sir, with all due respect I don't think you realize just how little research is done on race in modern days. You'd be ousted from the scientific community due to political reasons.
  14. Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2014
  15. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Not all journals are acceptable, google scholar is not a good place to look for acceptable journals as they list just about anything.

    The last two journals are listed in Thompson-Reuters, but that doesn't mean they are acceptable. I know BMJ has some very poor sub-journals under their umbrella, having very lax criteria for accepting papers.
  16. Hmmm...I almost though I was schizophrenic, you know? After that I spotted the discrepancy in no. of members and the names visible in the forum*. Afterwards I wrote a post questioning which link was the guilty one, then saw that you had already edited it. Edited my post then saw your post deleted my post...next time just edit it and say :stop blabbering E:
    *dead give-away by the way, only Zz and you seem to use that feature.
  17. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Anything I can do to make members crazy. :biggrin:

    I find that if I leave a post view able while I edit, someone inevitably posts a response, and then I have another member to frustrate by deleting or editing their post.

    Zz is my better half.
  18. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Nonsense, race and ethnicity are perfectly common research topics. Where do you get the idea that trying to include race in research will result in some sort of pariahship? That sounds like the type of excuse racists give when consensus rejects their crackpot theories on race.

    It isn't hard for you to check this out yourself. A simply search for papers containing "race" and "ethnicity" within the last ten years on pubmed alone brings up over 50,000 articles (more than one published every two hours)


    You could argue that many of those papers are tangential to race (perhaps only including them as a breakdown) but even that would show that race considerations are prevalent.
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