Why have white sprinters stagnated?

Even if genetic differences contribute to black dominance in short sprints, the question of why white sprinters have stopped getting better remains:
Today’s few elite White sprinters can run no faster than their predecessors from the 1970s, despite improved equipment, support, and facilities (George, 1994). Proposed racial physiological differences would not adequately explain White sprinting stagnation over a quarter of a century. Proponents of biological determinism might stress that whilst racial athletic differences are small, split seconds can separate champions and also-rans (Entine, 2000). However, the influence of stereotypes could also account for performance differentials, with Whites effectively defeated at the starting-line, by inflated impressions of Black rivals. For White sprinters fear of failure, and over arousal could be triggered by negative stereotypes, whilst Black sprinters may be more relaxed, and confident, due to positive stereotypes. It certainly seems that contemporary sprinting is more important in Black subculture (George, 1994), and few Whites choose to participate, perhaps because of perceptions of inferiority. Coaches may be significant agents in shaping attitudes and channelling Black or White athletes into or away from sprinting due to stereotypical assumptions.
[David Turner and Ian Jones. False Start? UK Sprint Coaches and Black/White Stereotypes.]
Here is the abstract of the paper cited above:
Over the past 30 years almost all world-class US sprinters have been black. There were also many fast black sprinters in the USA before the 1960s, but in addition there were a considerable number of world-class white sprinters. In fact, during the 1940s and 1950s the fastest men were white. This was not the case during the 1930s, when the best male sprinters were black. This essay discusses the phenomenon and attempts to give reasons for it. Sociological explanations seem considerably more plausible than physical characteristics based on perceived racial differences.
[George, J. (1994) The virtual disappearance of the white male sprinter in the United States: A speculative essay. Sociology of Sport Journal, 11, 1, 70-78.]
Black dominance in sprinting coincides with the advent of widespread anabolic steroid use. Perhaps this is entirely coincidental. Regardless, when boosters of black athleticism note that no white has run 100 meters in less than 10 seconds, one can note that neither did any black in the pre-steroid era or without Western coaching.


Anonymous said...

Valery Borzov was probably the last great white sprinter. His best time was under the great Bob Hayes world record set in 1964 in Tokyo of 10.06. He doubled in 1972 at Munich winning both the 100m and 200m.

Indra said...

In answer to the question posed in the title of the post, I think the compelling argument boils down to integration and puberty onset.

It is a medical fact that blacks have earlier puberty onset. When the races are segregated, White athletes can develop in their own communities, achieving their full potential as adults.

Under conditions of integration, Whites will often give up, or be forced out of, competition at the junior high and early high school level, when blacks have a developmental advantage.

It is really that simple, and also explains why so many White professional athletes today come from areas out in the Mountain West, for example, where the White population percentages are much higher, allowing greater development of the White athletic masses.

The Colonel said...

There's a lot of truth in Indra's remarks. Blacks (and most Hispanics for that matter) hit puberty 2 - 3 years earlier than Whites or E. Asians. This is in fact well known by coaches, academics, the media but ignored. Because there is a social agenda behind pushing black superiority in athletics. This is why the NFL openly despises fast White QB's and will work like hell to make sure they don't start.

Boxing was manipulated for decades, the powers that be moved on to other areas, feeling confident that the structure they had created would stay in place, and it collapsed quickly, with Whites now dominating from 150 lbs on up. Whites aren't as big a factor in the lower weight divisions because there simply are not sizable numbers of Whites who are that small.

While blacks do have certain physical advantages in some sports or events, just as Whites or Asians do in others, the fact is that black athletic superiority in many areas was a carefully crafted situation designed to attack the confidence of Whites. Something that is still going on in many areas, on many fronts.

Contemplating Conflict: A Blog About Life said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Contemplating Conflict: A Blog About Life said...

I would want to know the following before I conclude black superiority in sprinting:

1. Are they entirely drug free?

2. Do they train exactly the same way as white athletes?

3. Did they run their entire lives? In what shoes? (Barefoot sprinting actually teaches better technique)

4. Do white sprinters receive the same quality of feedback and instruction as black sprinters? Do whites experience stereotype threat at the starting block?

Until these questions are answered, I will continue to take black superiority in athletics with a grain of salt. There are too many unexamined variables.

mercury said...

interesting ... i have been running low to mid 4s in 40yrd since 7th grade no doping no speed coaching ... carefully crafted to show black suppremacy ... WHAT A LOAD!!! we find out were 're fast and we show it period ... american brown people were bread to be big and strong and it translated to some athletic prowess in some of us . have you ever seen a 13 year old black kid with a naturally cut body and wondered how in the heck ?? look it up ... i think early puberty is a cop out because athletes like Blake Griffin, who can jump like Lebron James exist . and if an athlete cant overcome the adversity of intimidation at an event he has been training for why is he there ?

Anonymous said...

"WHAT A LOAD!!! we find out were 're fast and we show it period ... american brown people were bread to be big and strong and it translated to some athletic prowess in some of us . have you ever seen a 13 year old black kid with a naturally cut body and wondered how in the heck"

More rationality, mister. Blacks are really more advanced during maturation, and a difference of several months in this stage of development is damn important.

The somatotype of West African blacks is not anyhow special; the main difference lies in smaller layers of subcutaneous fat that makes the muscles better visible under black skin. That's all the magic.

Anonymous said...

It very simple, the white people are the one who hunted blacks with weapons, being fast sprinter is the only way to escape, the fastest one survive.


The White Man said...

"Anonymous said...
It very simple, the white people are the one who hunted blacks with weapons, being fast sprinter is the only way to escape, the fastest one survive.


I poke two holes is your theory, your supposed "fastest ones" who escaped, can't have been brought to the states. Because they escaped.

The other hole being that white people have never hunted black people on a large industrial scale.
All the slaves bought to the americas were captured by other Africans, or were captured prisoners from a battle.

The White Man said...

Oh I forgot, being a fast sprinter is no help when being chased a long distance any way, that would supposedly breed a marathon runner.
And they come from the wrong part of Africa

Anonymous said...

If you believe in evolution you have to believe in the possibility of racial differences. Those of West African descent have dominated sprinting (up to about 600 meters or 660 yards) for more than a half-century now despite the pained efforts of the entire East Bloc, despite the efforts of sports programs all over the world, including that which draws from the 1.3 billion people in China, and despite the desparate hope by some in Western sports programs for the great white sprinter. It's not about steroids, or slaves running from white hunters, or early puberty onset, nor nutrition, nor bare feet - nor a dozen other poppycock explanations. It's about a genetic difference that shows up in the population of West African blacks just as other genetic differences show up in various populations. It does not mean any race is superior or inferior, nor that any race is less than fully human - it just means that West African descended blacks have a genetic proclivity for sprinting faster than other groups.

Anonymous said...

Evidence is that early humans hunted by persistence. That is, they chased their prey over long distances until the prey animal was completely exhausted. This favors marathon runners, not sprinters. Sprinting over short distances is only important in modern sports, not survival. If there is a gene for speed, it would have had a negative impact on survival during most of human existence.