What is the fastest 100m ran by a caucasion person?

Gravity has no horizontal component. It does not pull anything forward. Actually, both the earth and the athlete pull each other towards each other, but since the earth’s mass is infinitely (almost) greater than the athlete, the athlete moves toward the earth.

ALL horizontal propulsion comes from the athlete, unless you’re doing overspeed training.:wink:

Its not gravity pulling you forward its gravity pulling you down, and when you’re in proper hip alignment your foot acts as a lever to tilt you forward.

Take a hammer hold it by its base and allow it to fall. It would appear as if the hammer is falling forward but in reality its rotating towards the ground.

I believe, or at least I’ve been instructed, that proper hip alignment creates the sensation of being rotated forward, or even falling forward. This movement is by far the most efficient since gravity is helping in some capacity.

I think the three of you have miss-interpreted me. Ofcourse, even a six year old knows that gravity pulls downwards. You must think I’m still in nursery school. But if there was no gravity, you would not be able to run at all. Peeps are being pedantic about my phrasing.

If you lean your biro pen over, it crashes down to one side, and the longer the pen, the faster the velocity of the other end of pen as it falls. And how does it fall? Downwards? No, it falls in an arch. There is no way in hell we can generate all the force for 12meters per second velocity on our own. Gravity can only pull down things that don’t have a base underneath them. IF you accelerate with a forwards lean, you are going to accelerate quicker because gravity rotates you forwards, and if you get the right posture and feeling, you actually feel like you are falling forwards quickly. My phrasing is a simplification.

“Rainy”, you are correct, but I still prefer my phrasing, because without gravity, you’d not be able to run forwards. There is a huge amount of momentum, that simply wouldn’t be so huge without gravity. I think we are both correct, but we are using different phrasing. Ofcourse when you stand still, there is no forwards pull from gravity, but as soon as you start to lean forwards, you do not have to apply any force to fall further forwards with the rotation. If you catch yourself so that you don’t fall down, you will fall forwards instead (running.) Ofcourse, we are applying force as we run, so that we don’t collapse.

Unless you are the average child in America with a disproportionally large mass situated on their anterior midsection who is fed too much sugar and fast food as they sit complacently on the couch playing their video games as they’re PE department in school is being closed down in favor of holding more classes on how to speak about your feelings.

Just before the foot strikes the ground, the hips rotate away from posterior pelvic tilt, in to anterior pelvic tilt, and move even further in to anterior pelvic tilt when the foot is on the ground. I can only describe it as a cartoon character slipping on a banana skin, but where the ground has friction, we end up moving forwards. And with our diliberately dissplaced c.o.m and sprint posture, gravity is contributing a hell of a lot to the forwards speed. We are not pushing forwards when we get past the first several strides.

From there it is an act of simultainiously doing all we can to decrease braking forces by not interfering with gravity’s contribution to momentum, and creating the musculoskeletal stiffnes to prevent collapse.

The feeling should be of ‘catch up’. If the feeling was ‘push’, we would slow down and tense up right away. The hip flexors have a great deal to do with ‘meeting the invisible target’ ( up in front high -where you want your c.o.m to move ) and preventing drag by throwing the knee forwards after rear foot leaves ground. This helps the hip alignment so that our support leg can move backwards quickly amongst other things. The mass of the body above the knee and the speed at which you are allready moving will allways have far far more influance on the speed of plantar flexion, than the strength of the gastroc muscle. Even the achilles tendon is only developing to the level of sprint speeds you have worked at allready. It provides some elastic rebound, but not enough to account for all the speed. Once your c.o.m moves significantly in front of the foot, your heel is being pulled away from the ground, the calf MTU is not creating all of that plantar flexion speed.

I once ran in an 80m.p.h hurricane with the wind blowing me forwards. (for the sheer mad fun of it, in the middle of an empty road) I don’t know what the ground reaction forces were, but I did not get injured running at probably above world record pace.
I believe that most of us allready have the plantar flexion strength and achiles reflex speed to cope with world record pace, and possibly the hamstring strength, but we haven’t adequately developed all the other ingrediants. (I digress, but this is a reason why I am not a big believer in depth jumps and box jumps, as I think that type of strength is allready there.) I know we are steering off topic here, the main feature of the thread is an interseting and mature debate on white and black athletes and varying influances.

You are absolutely correct though, that hip alignment causes musch of the rotation and is of huge importance to sprint speed.

Lol, I agree. And you know we’ll both roll our eyes, when in ten years time, there will be a big “break thru”, when teachers tell us that exercize can stimulate the brain because the mind and the body are linked, and so therefor; P.E should be done. (for 10 minutes once a weak.)

As a side note, the sumo wrestlers increase their girth for three reasons:
A) More weight (obvious)
B) Harder for the opponent to get their arms around the mid-section.
C) Because a greater girth slightly lowers the center of mass, by pulling it downwards. This they believe, makes it harder for them to be toppled or thrown or pushed by their opponent.
(Amazing that a small oriental nation can produce such super sized athletes, to keep it a tad relevent to the thread.)

Despite the importance of the hip and leg muscles, many sprinters are ‘top heavy’ compared to to other people, in terms of girth. In reality, they have an astheticly pleasing physique and are the fastest of all athletes, so not realy top heavy in terms of functionality.
Look how thin Shawn Crawfords’ calves are, and look how developed his torso is. I don’t think that level of developement is necessary in upper body of sprinter, but it doesn’t seem to hurt him. Asafa Powell and Usain Bolt both have broad shoulders.

You understanding of physics is lacking. We could generate just as much force on the moon as long as we can get traction. Flight time would be much longer, stride rate greatly reduced, but stride length greatly increased.

How this has any correlation to sprinting on earth, I’m not sure, but gravity is not our friend when running.

I used to believe what the three of you are all quoting above. It is common perception to believe that we are doing all the work on our own. This is the traditional, well known, common sense, instinctive and thoroughly conventional understandign. However, since studying further, I have come to realize that it is not just us that’s doing all the work. I can assure you, that althought the astronuats hopped and jumped quite high on the moon, despite their very heavy suits, they could not do a fast horizonatal leg speed of the support leg in any running motion. It is not that the moon is all ‘dusty and slippery’. You could run faster in a well raked sand pit than you could on the moon. Bob Hayes 1964 gravel track in lane one, pissed on by half an hour of rain, would not provide much more friction than moon surface, except that the running track was on earth where the gravity is six times that of the moon. I can assure you, that without the gravity, there would be very little horizontal speed in running. It is not just a case of not being ‘pulled back to the ground quick enough’ on the moon, as suggested by some one above. On the contrary, when the astronuats walked on the moon, with atleast one foot on the ground at any time, they walked very slowly, and could not generate hardly any horizonatal limb velocity. When they tried to run, it was practically impossible. Are you still telling me that gravity does not, in some way, greatly assist in sprinting speed. If you are, then I’m afraid it is you, that is failing to grasp the influance of gravity.

My understanding of physics is not lacking. I used to think the way you’re thinking about it, but I don’t think that way about it anymore.


After doing a little research I find that there is some truth to Goose’s discussion of gravity and sprinting. While there is no horizontal component to gravity, there is interaction between gravity, kinetic energy, and something called the pendulum effect. The article below is about walking, but I would it transfers to running as well.

The role of gravity in human walking: pendular energy exchange, external work and optimal speed

G A Cavagna, P A Willems* and N C Heglund*
+Author Affiliations

Istituto di Fisiologia Umana, Università degli Studi di Milano 20133 Milan, Italy
*Unité de Réadaptation, Université catholique de Louvain 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium
Corresponding author G. A. Cavagna: Istituto di Fisiologia Umana, Via Mangiagalli 32, 20133 Milano, Italy. Email: giovanni.cavagna@unimi.it
1.During walking on Earth, at 1.0 g of gravity, the work done by the muscles to maintain the motion of the centre of mass of the body (Wext) is reduced by a pendulum-like exchange between gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy. The weight-specific Wext per unit distance attains a minimum of 0.3 J kg−1 m−1 at about 4.5 km h−1 in adults.

2.The effect of a gravity change has been studied during walking on a force platform fixed to the floor of an aircraft undergoing flight profiles which resulted in a simulated gravity of 0.4 and 1.5 times that on Earth.

3.At 0.4 g, such as on Mars, the minimum Wext was 0.15 J kg−1 m−1, half that on Earth and occurred at a slower speed, about 2.5 km h−1. The range of walking speeds is about half that on Earth.
4.At 1.5 g, the lowest value of Wext was 0.60 J kg−1 m−1, twice that on Earth; it was nearly constant up to about 4.3 km h−1 and then increased with speed. The range of walking speeds is probably greater than that on Earth.

5.A model is presented in which the speed for an optimum exchange between potential and kinetic energy, the ‘optimal speed’, is predicted by the balance between the forward deceleration due to the lift of the body against gravity and the forward deceleration due to the impact against the ground.

6.In conclusion, over the range studied, gravity increases the work required to walk, but it also increases the range of walking speeds.

Ok, but “walking” by definition is with with at least one foot on the ground throughout the stride cycle. That is there is no flight phase so stride length can’t be maximised as it could be in running or bounding. No doubt the most effective gait cycle in low gravity will look very different to that in earths gravity - though would it be slower by definition? I’m still not convinced based on the evidence presented so far that more gravity is analogous to more speed (assuming a stiffer spring). Though am happy to be convinced otherwise with better evidence.

Ok gofast. I’ll just save up some money, and I’ll try to persuade NASA to include you on their next moon landing mission. I hear they are actually planning to return their within a few years.

For flip sake. What do some people want as evidence round here? Do you want a long boring book on the subject? Can you not add up? Do you need a scientific journal ‘et al’ to convinve you? If you want the type of evidence you are looking for, google the subject. If however, you want real evidence, look at the video clips of men walking on the moon, and hopping. Also experiment with your sprint posture. Also do the following drill:

Suddenly run backwards from a standing start. You’ll move quicker if you lean backwards in the initial acceleration strides of running backwards. (Why running backwards?) So that I can nullify the theory from the last four posters, that it is only to do with hip alignment. When you run backwards, your hip alignment is not whats creating the speed (think about it), but you still need to lean in the direction your moving if you want to accelerate quickly (because of gravity.)
Get it yet? Ofcourse you don’t. I don’t need you to be convinced, but you have rebuked what I said earlier, so I am defending what I said earlier. It really isn’t so difficult to understand.

Nobody runs bolt upright with a straight spine. Nobody in the whole world. Take Michael Johnson for example. Everybody said he ran ‘upright’. On the contrary, he had one of the most obvious spinal curvertures and anterior pelvic tilts I have ever seen in any human during running. Just because his chest was high, doesn’t mean his spine was straight. The anterior pelvic tilt is needed so that you can put your body further in front of the foot during triple extension. (the foot does not go that far behind the hip when hip is high (decreased ground contact patch), but the hips go far behind the belly, which gravity is pulling down on, with no where to go but forwards, because your elastic strength stopped you from collapsing on the ground. And you got to go somewhere.

Why do you think your twentieth stride is faster than your first stride? Why can’t you just burst in to maximum speed during the first second? It doesn’t take you more than one punch, to throw your fastest punch. It doesn’t take you more than one kick to throw your fastest kick. But it does take you many strides before you are covering more ground per stride as well as at some point, greater stride frequancies than the first two strides. If you don’t where I was going with that, I can’t be bothered to explain any more anyway. I didn’t come on here to convince everyone about gravities effect. I just took it as red that most would get it, and it wasn’t even my main point in the first post I entered in this thread. But for so many to not get it, reminds me that some people don’t like to add up for themselves, and like others to do the thinking for them. Go and read some boring scientific journal or several for that matter, and then you might convince yourself.

Goose my man! whats the matter? feeling uphappy today? Dont try to “convince” people on a forum… its mute.
If some want to badger you - or as i call it, “fishing for bites” try not to bite too hard on their line, then you’ll just end up struggling on a hook…

It’s all relative; I will use the example of zero gravity and the gravity of a large planet like Jupiter. Human bones would be crushed under the gravitational pull of such a large planet, gravity is proportional to the mass of an object, and the larger mass the stronger the gravitational pull. Stronger gravity means greater inertia (resistance to movement) therefore running speeds would be impeded. On the other extreme, running is not possible under zero gravity because the upward motion during flight phase can not be reversed once the foot is no longer on the ground. You need gravity for the foot to come back down.

Too much gravity = too much resistance
Not enough gravity= COM will stay in flight- unable to apply ground forces for acceleration.

I hope this information helps.


Many fans just can’t believe that Jeremy Wariner, the Olympic 400-meter champ, is white–and they’ve argued it out on the Web

RE: Why isn’t Jeremy Wariner more popular?

macker> Because 99% of the USA doesn’t know anything about T+F…

Right> Because he is the perfect model for drugs in sports.

White Guy
Sophomore in College
Fastest Time in the World

ttc> A big part of the conversation about Wariner is that he is white. Because he’s white, he would make a great 800m runner…

Could I be good?> Why would he make a great 800 runner because he is white?

ChinaFan> Is common knowledge that Blacks run fast 400m. Whites run fast 800m. And Asians run fast marathons. All stereotypically speaking.

trackstar> Common knowledge says that you are an idiot…

IL(L) Runner> On the topic of Blacks vs. Whites in the speed category, isn’t there some differnce in the muscle structure or even the tendons or ligiments between the two? Doesn’t anyone have any information on this?

not PC> Jeremy Wariner is not more popular because the liberal media does not want to see a white man succeed in a black man’s sport. . . .

African> hey Africans run fast marathons not Asians, fool…!

Rodney King> Why can’t you simply appreciate Jeremy’s talent and ignore his race? It’s truly sad that so many people on this site get hung up on skin color.

On a red polyurethane oval in the heart of Texas, a young man is running counterclockwise loops today. He has been on national TV for, oh, maybe seven or eight minutes in his life, just long enough to do something no white man from the U.S. had done in the Olympics in 40 years. Just long enough to annihilate all sorts of assumptions about the color, physique and age required for an American male to win a sprint gold medal. But not all the assumptions.

He came out of nowhere, a blank slate, and he blurred lines that people had grown accustomed to. He was an invitation to everyone to fill in that blank and draw their own lines.

I wish I could tell you a remarkable story about the 20-year-old who just did this remarkable thing, but there isn’t one, so I can’t. The story here is us.

RE: Why isn’t Jeremy Wariner more popular?

…> Race has less to do with it than “tribal” affiliation; a black Kenyan is not the same as a black Sudanese. Likewise a white Slav is not the same as a white Englishman. Read the journals.

Youngton> … the guy hangs out with a black coach and black company. That may explain his success.

mitz> I’m black and I think he is hot…

pappas> his coach is white

lobo> …Our two other black finalists could have been on the juice rather than Jeremy.

Speed Kills> … My impression is that it’s political correctness: Sprinters are “supposed” to be poor black kids…

oops! > I think it’s the in-bred look that’s hurting him…

Moving to Bucharest > Why don’t his sunglasses fall off when he runs?

Oh, there may be a few things to say about him, how he came to look and talk and do the startling things he did in Athens. But trust me, he’s so modest and mild that you’d never dream he’d stir up such a ruckus on the websites and message boards back home.

Not that he was always so mellow. In fact, he was downright devilish as a child, absolute murder in a movie theater. He would lose the plot in no time, launch out of his seat and up the aisle five times a flick. He’d lose focus in class, start fidgeting and whispering, then turn red when the teacher asked him a question. On road-melting summer days in Arlington, Texas, when his parents were at work and all his older sister and brother wanted to do was go slack-jawed in front of their favorite TV shows, Jeremy’s pestering would make them so crazy that they’d invite him to follow them through an upstairs bedroom window onto the roof, then slip back inside and lock the window, marooning him up there for the rest of the day.

But the Ritalin worked. Told he had attention deficit disorder after nearly failing first grade, he resisted the medication at first because it sapped his energy. But his sister, Jennifer, who often looked after him, wouldn’t stand for it. “I don’t care if he doesn’t want it!” she’d yelp. “Shove it down his throat like you do a dog!”

The kid took the pills and chilled. School became bearable once he could remain calm, blend in with the other kids and scrape by. He was actually a gentle, shy boy who loathed attention and conflict; he’d fall silent or walk away when either one reared its head in a classroom or on the ballfields where he spent his free time.

From his parents he received no athletic legacy. His father, a landscape designer and as down-to-earth a man as you’d ever meet, grew up with a clubfoot that wasn’t surgically repaired until he was 19, and Jeremy’s mother, a paralegal, didn’t play sports in school. But they bequeathed him something else, maybe rarer: an openness to people of all colors and creeds. At the day-care center that his mom opened in their home when he was a toddler, Jeremy played with Hot Wheels with a boy who was half-Taiwanese and listened to stories alongside two boys from India. He pieced together puzzles with a pair of African-American boys and raced around the house with the two half-Japanese boys who lived behind him.

“I was brought up,” he says, “to believe that a person is a person.”

RE: Why isn’t Jeremy Wariner more popular?

sub 2 800> yes that is true in some cases black people have an advantage due to the fact that their bodies get oxygen to their muscles faster. It has been proven but its not in all black people. It can also be found in some white people…


Sacha> Actually, I believe it has to do with the amount of calcium one can produce. Scientifically, when doing athletic exertions like running and jumping, the body needs, I think, calcium to power the cells and muscles. The cells of black people are able to produce more calcium than the cells of white people…

bobberrrrrr> your common knowledge is the reason USA basketball got busted in the ass … keep ur comon knowledge to yourself.

People first realized the boy was fast when he and his African-American pal Kyle Williams kept breaking out of the herd of six-year-olds chasing a ball across rec-league soccer fields in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, leaving the rabble in the distance. But no one knew that he was fast fast until his growth spurt came at age 14 and the defensive-backs coach at Arlington Lamar High kept seeing this skinny freshman wide receiver fly past the varsity cornerbacks during spring practice as if they were fence posts. That coach, Mike Nelson, happened to be the head track coach. “You ought to run track,” said Nelson.

“I play baseball,” Jeremy replied.

Two months of rotting on the freshman baseball team bench corrected this notion. The next year, after his basketball season ended, Jeremy appeared on the track a few weeks after practice had begun. He trained just a few days, then was entered in a jayvee meet. He demolished the 400-meter field by 40 meters, broke the school’s sophomore record with a 50.8 and walked off the track as if he’d just taken a jog around the block. “If that kid’s on your jayvee,” gulped the opposing coach, “you must have one heck of a varsity.” He was promoted to the varsity for the next meet and tied the school record with a 48.8.

It worked better than Ritalin, this new sport. All the stress and distractions he felt in the classroom melted away as he blazed around the curves and down the straightaways; he could relax and focus for hours, absorb every detail on a track. All the frustration he’d see in the eyes of his mother–an admitted perfectionist who would refold towels and sheets if someone else had folded them–as she rode him to finish his homework each day would vanish as she leaped to her feet, bellowing as he blazed for the finish line, “Go, baby, go!”

Reggie Harrell, Arlington High’s record-setting senior hurdler, at first couldn’t believe that a skinny white sophomore could glide with him and the other black runners in practice, stride for stride. But the bony newcomer had a sweet, endearing nature, not a trace of machismo in him, so Reggie gave him a sweet, endearing nickname, an African-American one that meant little guy. Jeremy became Pookie to the brotherhood of sprinters and soon cherished his new name.

RE: Why isn’t Jeremy Wariner more popular?

keeper> Because Black ppl have more “fast twitch fibers” than white ppl

Because> Because he wears sunglasses, and thus, looks emotionless.

l/////'m all e>For one he looks like a geek. Two, he tried to act as if he is black. And third, he thinks he is the greaest thing since sliced bread. And get rid of the sunglasses unless you’re running during the day!

LOLO> HE’S HOT! I LIKE SKINNY WHITE GUYS. FROM: MIA/LATINA Sure, he heard what buzzed through the crowd when he and seven African-Americans coiled into the starting blocks for the 200-meter and 400-meter sprints: Man, what’s that white boy doin’ out there? Sure, he stuck out in his new surroundings. But not for long.

He had already traded his long, curly hair for a clean buzz. Now he quietly observed and began to blend in, the way he had years earlier in the classroom. His voice inflections changed. A little bounce came into his walk. Like many white suburban kids watching hip-hop videos, he began wearing baggier clothes. Hours of training under the Texas sun burnished his skin to the coloring of his Cherokee great-great-great-grandmother. The alternative rock he’d favored in middle school disappeared from his radio. Off he’d roll in his car, driving his new track buddies home after practice, Jay-Z and Lil’ Wayne booming from the speakers. “He just molds to the environment he’s in,” says teammate Korey Wright.

Half of the kids at his high school were of African, Asian or Hispanic descent. More and more, that was the half he hung with. Pookie came to a few conclusions about African-Americans. “They aren’t judgmental,” he says. “They don’t worry as much about popularity.”

African-Americans came to a few conclusions about Pookie. “You see a lot of white guys trying to act black and a lot of black guys trying to act white,” says Darold Williamson, a world-class sprinter who would end up being Jeremy’s best friend at college. “Guys trying to be cool by being somebody else. Not Jeremy. He’s not forcing anything. He’s real free about life. He goes with the flow, he doesn’t obsess over stuff like some white guys do. He’s always just himself. That’s why it’s so easy for African-Americans to accept him.”

The more he looked and acted as if he belonged on that oval, the more he felt it. What others felt didn’t faze him, didn’t even seem to register. Sometimes his mother wondered if she’d overprotected him. He seemed naive to harsh realities, unaware of any lane markers between blacks and whites. “I’ve heard about racists on TV,” he would say. “But I’ve never seen a racist. I’ve never seen racism.”

So this was the extraordinary cocktail that the white boy brought to the starting blocks: familiarity … relaxation … focus … innocence … and hair-on-fire speed. A few seconds after he launched, Man, what’s that white boy doin’ out there? became Man, you SEE that white boy RUN? By the end of his senior year Jeremy had posted the year’s fastest 200-meter and second-fastest 400-meter high school times in the U.S.

In the whoosh of one race, a woman in the stands turned to Jeremy’s mom in disbelief. The woman couldn’t help herself, couldn’t keep the words inside her mouth. “Is he mixed?” she blurted.

RE: Why is it A BIG DEAL that Jeremy Wariner is white?

Vipam> … It seems to me that many of you are displaying borderline racist view points in my opinion!!!

kmh> … I assume he is not of West African descent… Do we know this for certain?

redmeansdead> … I was more surprised at the fact Jeremy is so young rather than the fact that he is white.

Apple Cider Vinegar> Ignoring race is dillusional.

9> … If you are celebrating that a WHITE guy won a ‘sprint’, then i could look at it the other way, you being happy BLACK guys lost.

dk46> … So if I’d phrased my shock by saying a thin guy won the 400m, would you call me prejudiced towards the muscularly ripped-challenged …?

BigTex> … I guess it’s only racist if someone is proud of the accomplishments of white people…

No one, of any color, had the market on misconceptions cornered. The Florida A&M track coach caught wind of Jeremy’s times and telephoned Coach Nelson to make a recruiting pitch.

“Isn’t … uh … isn’t Florida A&M a predominantly black university?” Nelson asked delicately.

“Yes, it is,” said the recruiter.

“Well, uh … did you know that Jeremy Wariner is predominantly white?”

Pause. “No … but … but that’s O.K.,” the coach delicately replied.

Even Michael Ford–the African-American assistant track coach at Baylor who had seen Jeremy run and had begun wooing him to the university in Waco, just an hour and a half away from Arlington–assumed that his quarry was biracial.

The quarterback on Jeremy’s team had trouble throwing the ball as far as Jeremy could run a 41/2-second route, but Jeremy was probably too thin to be a Division I wide receiver anyway. He still had Friday-night lights in his eyes, though, so he didn’t jump at the track offers pouring in. He made an oral commitment to Baylor when it offered him a football scholarship, then despaired when the coach at the time, Kevin Steele, realized he had made too many scholarship offers and yanked Jeremy’s.

By then a white-haired man had shown up at his door. He was genuine–dignified and funny too. He was also the maestro of the 200 and 400 meters, the finest long-sprint coach in the world, the man who’d mentored Michael Johnson: Baylor head track coach Clyde Hart. Jeremy swallowed his football disappointment, chose Baylor anyway and whittled his two dreams down to one. “I want to run in the Olympics,” he told Coach Hart.

Hart looked at the rail-thin white kid, 6’1" and 145 pounds. A half-century earlier Hart had been the 100-yard-dash champion of Arkansas. Forbidden by segregation to compete in an official meet with the state’s black champ–a guy everybody called Cornelius Mitchell, who years later would become the first African-American signed by the Washington Redskins, a future Hall of Fame flanker known as Bobby Mitchell–the two boys from Hot Springs met on a track that had gone to seed and went head-to-head in a series of informal races. The kids watching laid bets. Hart beat Mitchell every time.

“Sure,” Coach Hart told Jeremy. “We’ll make the Olympics a goal.” He was a patient man who believed in building a 400-meter sprinter’s strength and endurance slowly, the way he had with Johnson, whose shiniest days came well after his Baylor years. “We’ll aim for 2008.”

RE: Why is it A BIG DEAL that Jeremy Wariner is white?

isagt> It’s important because for decades whites have been at the end of an orchestrated campaign to browbeat them into thinking that they cannot compete with blacks and others.

just kidding> Because his parents are black!

trackshard> … It is a big deal that he is white and that fast. I’m a white 400m runner from NYC and for years I’ve stood out for no other reason besides my race. However, there has always seemed to me to be a barrier that my race puts up that stops me from entering the next level (which I know is a feeling other white sprinters I talk to have). What is important about Jeremy Wariner is that he just shattered that barrier.

Critic100> Wariner suffers from the same condition as Michael Jackson puntificating>Running is entirely too racist. 100m, 200m, 400m, 5000m, 10000m, marathon… What’s with all the different races? Can’t we all just run together?

One day last spring, the legend appeared at Baylor. Pookie’s teammates flocked to Michael Johnson, all aflutter, eager to bathe in his five-gold-medal glow. Jeremy stood quietly to the side. At last Johnson went to him and introduced himself. From that moment Johnson–the master of containment–knew that the sophomore might be something special.

Injuries had kept the kid in the weeds his freshman year. But Johnson noticed something else. “Jeremy’s his own person, but he has one thing that I had,” says Johnson. “He hates to lose, but he’s not afraid to lose. It’s a fine line, but this kid just gets it–that attitude of, You can’t beat me, even if I don’t win today. It comes from complete confidence in himself and his preparation. He believes totally in Coach Hart’s training program and strategy. Too many athletes identify themselves too much with winning and losing and what that means about them as a person. You can see them before a race thinking of the consequences if they lose–what will people think, what will the media say, what will my father or mother think of me, how much money will I lose? Some of them deal with that fear by jumping around and entertaining the crowd, some of them turn it inward. Either way, they’re using energy. What you’re about to do takes so much energy that you can’t waste any. Whereas Jeremy is just being Jeremy, thinking that all he can do is run this race the best he can, focusing on the things he can control and not worrying a bit about what he can’t, or what the consequences might be. That focus sets him apart.”

At the end of his sophomore year, Jeremy moved into a house just off Baylor’s campus with three teammates: a black 800-meter runner whose parents came from Kenya, a black long jumper from New Jersey and a white 400-meter runner from Indiana. But Jeremy’s closest friend was his closest rival–teammate and 400-meter sprinter Williamson–a relationship nearly unprecedented in the annals of track and testosterone. What other world-class 400-meter man had another one of nearly equal talent pushing him, and supporting him, every day in practice?

No injury interrupted Jeremy’s second year at Baylor. He began tearing tenths of a second off his best times with each passing week, tearing Coach Hart’s timetable to tatters–a jet hissing beneath the radar of American sports fans and international track. He won the NCAA indoors 400, then the outdoors a few months later, then the Olympic trials a few months after that, passing every drug test along the way.

By then he ran wearing a mini-goatee, a silver chain his parents had given him and a pair of zirconium earrings he’d picked up for 20 bucks. He tried to let his hair grow out so he could braid it, but he couldn’t bear the long, curly locks he saw in the mirror and went back to the buzz cut. “You know you’re not white, Pookie,” his black teammates teased him, and Jeremy laughed and teased them back.

Just for the hell of it, he wore sunglasses one night last spring at an outdoor meet. Darold grinned and did it too. The shades kept Jeremy from looking around just before a race, and everyone else from looking in. No longer did he notice if anyone was staring at the one white boy in a field of eight sprinters. The sunglasses made everything blend, smudged all the lines.

But was that such a big deal? A 20-year-old doing what 20-year-olds do, experimenting with superficialities and ending up dressing and talking and looking pretty much like most of the guys he hung out with? Maybe you once did that. Maybe you still do.

RE: 44.37


bigred> … I’m sure he’ll give a damn about your fashion advice when he’s takin his victory lap in Athens.

Two years earlier, he was running in front of 300 people at the Hoot Smith Relays at Central Junior High in Hurst, Texas. Now Jeremy, the 150-pound waif competing on foreign soil for only the third time in his life, was running against the world’s seven other fastest 400-meter sprinters in front of 87,000 people in Athens and hundreds of millions of television viewers worldwide.

Coach Hart churned inside and paced. Jeremy looked as if he were still at the Hoot Smith, and why not, after the way he’d dusted the competition in the quarter- and semifinal heats the previous two days?

“Let’s hit the 200 split at 21.3 to 21.5,” Hart instructed him. Jeremy, with his uncanny internal clock, nailed it in 21.3 and still found himself trailing U.S. teammate Otis Harris … and still remained astonishingly fluid, his relaxed limbs flowing down the stretch as thicker rivals strained and tied up. Finishing in 44 seconds flat, he led a U.S.A. medal sweep, became the first white American to win an Olympic sprint since Mike Larrabee in the 400 in 1964, the first white American to win gold in any track event since Dave Wottle in the 800 in 1972 … and the first man ever to pull off an NCAA indoors/NCAA outdoors/Olympic trials/Olympics sweep in a single year.

First thing out of his mouth, when he saw Coach Hart on the edge of the track, was, “Coach, I got the school record!”

“Yeah,” said Hart, the ever-demanding father, “but you didn’t go 43.”

“It’ll give me something to work for,” vowed Jeremy.

Michael Johnson, who didn’t bust 45 seconds until his senior year at Baylor, hurried to trackside from his BBC press-row perch. “Jeremy, do you realize what you’ve just done?” Johnson cried.

“Right now I’ve got to focus on the four-by-four relay,” replied Jeremy.

Johnson blinked. “I’m thinking, First of all, that’s a few days from now, and second, if you’re on the United States’ four-by-four relay, you don’t focus on it, you just run and don’t drop the baton,” says Johnson. “You kind of want to shake him and say, ‘Celebrate! Jump around a little. Be a kid, be silly, say something stupid–be 20!’”

Pookie didn’t hit the town. He didn’t celebrate. He had downed seven shots of tequila once at a college party, and that had been the end of party life for him. He barely even flashed his gold medal to his family, and he casually tossed the wreath he wore on the medal stand to his sister to keep. Hell, he never even bothered to check out the Acropolis, the Parthenon or anything else in Athens during the Games. He did what he usually did: surfed the Internet, watched TV, text-messaged and IM’d friends and slept, a homebody far from home.

Four days later he ran the third leg of the USA’s winning 400-meter relay. He could’ve run the anchor leg, the historical prerogative of the gold medalist in the 400, but he turned it down. He wanted his pal Darold, who always ran anchor on Baylor’s 400-meter relay team, to hit the tape and take the limelight.

It was time to go home, but Jeremy didn’t have to pack his suitcase. He was so eager to see Michelle Milton, his African-American girlfriend, that he’d packed it three days early.

RE: Sprinter’s speed isn’t Black or White issue

Runninghorse> I’ve been saying it for years: only in the US, the coaches put the white guys out to the distance pastures and the black guys on the speedway. Its all based on mythology.

Answer Giver> Let’s stir the pot (klansmen and panthers free your mind and your ass will follow)…

The Fern> Does anyone else sometimes see this message board as a whole pasture of dead horses being beaten to death by a bunch of guys who think they know everything, trying to convince everyone else that they do.

The stench of dead horseflesh is no easy thing to dispel. A man reading this story might easily despair, concluding that it’s hopeless, that it’ll never happen … unless he takes a step backward from the pasture, and then another and another, all the way back to where the white-haired man is standing. Imagine how different it all looks and smells from 70-year-old Clyde Hart’s perspective.

Imagine that your first day on the job was in 1957 in Little Rock, where you’re assigned to search lockers for bombs while busloads of white people prevent nine black children from walking through the doors of your high school, requiring the 101st Airborne to occupy the school for the rest of the year to prevent violence … and to burn your high hurdles at night to stay warm. Imagine that six years later you’re promoted to coach at Baylor, in perhaps the most prestigious athletic conference in the land–the Southwest Conference–where not a single black man competes in track and field … until you bring in one of the first two, Ronnie Allen, just before the '70s roll in. You turn around, and it’s the '90s already, and you’re the coach of a black millionaire sprinter named Michael Johnson as he stands in the middle of an Olympic stadium in northern Georgia and flings his golden shoes into the adoring crowd. Turn around again and you’re the coach of a gold-medal-winning Southern white youth who chooses the look and style of a black youth as he sprints right through what’s left of the barriers because he never even sees any barriers. Imagine all that occurring in less than 50 years, in the course of one man’s working days, and then smell the air again.

“People just don’t realize what sports has done in this country,” says Hart. "It’s mixed kids together and made them realize that some things they’ve been taught about people aren’t true. It’s been the great equalizer in America.

“There’s absolutely been a barrier for white sprinters in America. There’s a stigma there. White kids think that it’s a black kids’ sport, that blacks are superior. There are plenty of white kids with fast-twitch fibers, but they’ve got to get off their rumps. Too many of them would rather go fast on their computers in a fantasy world. It’s not about genes, although they may play some part in it. It’s about Do you want it badly enough?”

Jeremy turned pro when the Olympics ended. He’ll continue attending Baylor, a couple of classes a semester, and continue training under Hart even if the coach retires from his Baylor job after next spring’s meets. Jeremy plans to run for gold in two or three more Olympics, to double up in the 200 and 400 as soon as he can talk his coach into it … and to replace the zirconium earrings with diamonds as soon as the first fat check rolls in.

Of course, he now needs someone to plan his schedule and his travel logistics. So former Baylor sprinter Deon Minor became his manager. And he needs someone to protect his image, represent him in corporate conference rooms, negotiate his track appearances and endorsement deals. So he chose Michael Johnson. It was such an obvious decision, who would even stop to marvel over a white athlete with a black agent?

Sure, the kid might push some people’s buttons, but they were all at a far remove … buttons on the computers of lonely souls in cyberspace. No such conflict existed in his day-to-day life. And that’s the real story down here, deep in the heart of Texas: There is no story. Just a nice, quiet, radically fast young man with no interest in making social statements and no clue as to why anyone–all the reporters who peppered him with questions about race after he won the gold medal, all the people roaming websites, even a writer from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED–would make color an issue. Why anyone would thrust 1957 on him.

“My generation doesn’t see color the way others did,” he says. "I never felt that barrier. Just be yourself, have fun and don’t let nothin’ bother you. It’s not about how you look. It’s about how you feel, and I feel more comfortable looking the way I look.

“I don’t care what people say. I don’t care if my opponents use drugs. If they’re using 'em, let 'em use 'em. It’ll come back on them some day. Being skinny, I feel like I have an advantage because I have less weight to carry around the track. Race issues, drug issues, I just learned to let 'em go past me. When I get on the track, my mind clears, and all I hear in my head is what Coach Hart told me: Stay focused. Get out strong. Work the turn. Keep your form.”

RE: Who says white men can’t sprint?

Me Too> I believe Wariner is half-white/half-black

Bad Science> Poor guy! Can you imagine the problems that can cause?

If he’s divided top/bottom and the top is black, he’s stuck being slow. If he’s divided left/right, it’s a bitch if the white side is on the right, because then he keeps running off the curve from the stronger forces generated by the inside leg. Damn!

I won’t post the whole study but I encourage you to read it through even though it is not strictly related to “the fastest race” but can give you an insight on what may be playing an important role in development of the next generation of fastest humans.

Worldwide variation in the performance of children and adolescents: An analysis of 109 studies of the 20-m shuttle run test in 37 countries


This study is a meta-analysis of 109 reports of the performance of children and adolescents on the 20-m shuttle run test (20- mSRT). The studies were performed in 37 countries and included data on 418,026 children, tested between 1981 and 2003.

Results were expressed as running speed (km Á h71) at the final completed stage of the 20-mSRT. Raw data were combined with pseudodata using Monte Carlo simulation. The 20-mSRT performances were expressed as z-scores relative to all children of the same age and sex from all countries. An overall ‘‘performance index’’ was derived for each country as the average of the age- and sex-specific z-scores for all children from that country. Factorial analysis of variance was used to compare scores among countries and regions, and between boys and girls of the same age. There was wide and significant (P 5 0.0001) global variability in the performance of children. The best performing children were from the Northern European countries Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, and Finland (0.6 – 0.9 standard deviations above the global average). The worst performing children were from Singapore, Brazil, USA, Italy, Portugal, and Greece (0.4 – 0.9 standard deviations below the global average). There is evidence that performance was negatively related to being overweight, as well as to a country’s average temperature.

Variation among countries

The performance indices (i.e. the average z-scores) for each of the 37 countries surveyed are shown in Table III. They ranged from þ 0.863 for Estonia to 70.867 for Singapore. There were significant differences between the performance indices of different countries (F ¼ 970, P 5 0.0001). The best performing nations were Northern European countries, notably Iceland and the Baltic states. The top seven nations were all from Northern and Central Europe. The worst performing nations were Southern European countries (Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain), Brazil, and some of the developed Pacific Rim nations (USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia). Of the bottom ten countries, seven came from Southern Europe and the Pacific Rim. When grouped into geographical regions (Northern, Central, Western, and Southern Europe; Africa; Pacific Rim; and Other Countries), there were significant differences in the unweighted mean performance index (P 5 0.0001). Northern Europe (mean performance index ¼ þ 0.60) outperformed all other regions, and all regions except the Pacific Rim (70.26) and Other Countries (70.19) outperformed Southern Europe (70.40).

In Europe, there was a clear north – south fitness gradient (Figure 3). The top five ranked countries were all from Northern Europe (Estonia, Iceland, Finland, Lithuania, and Ireland), while three Southern European countries (Greece, Portugal, and Italy) were among the six lowest ranked countries.


Variation among countries

The variation in mean fitness between countries spanned over 1.7 standard deviations: 95% of Estonian children would perform better than the average Singaporean child. This span of performances equates, using a validated equation (Leger et al., 1988), to a difference of about 10 –´ 12 ml Á kg71 Á min71 (or about 25% of average V O2peak) between the most fit and least fit groups of children. To make these differences more concrete, it would mean that the average Estonian male adolescent would finish about 600 m ahead of the average young Singaporean in a 12-min run.

The superiority of Northern and Central European children, and the relatively poor performance of North American children, has been a recurrent theme in studies since the 1960s. In 1960, Knuttgen reported that 99% of Danish seventh- to twelfth grade girls and 96% of Danish boys performed better than American averages on the AAHPER 600-yard walk/run test. Shephard (1976) noted that Scandinavian children were much better on V O2peak tests than children from North America. In 1973, it was reported that 10-, 15-, and 17-year-old German boys and girls performed decidedly better on a PWC170 test (W Á kg71) than comparable Canadian children, and were of similar fitness to Czech children measured in other studies (Rutenfranz et al., 1973). Fredriksen et al. (1998) compared directly measured V O2peak values of European children, finding that children from Northern Europe were better than their peers from other parts of Europe. More recently, Koenig-McIntyre (1992) compared the one-mile run performances of 10-year-old Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish children to those of US children. The passing percentages on criterion-referenced tests of the Northern European children (54 – 85%) easily exceeded those of US children (42 – 44%).
Methodological issues The issue of the representativeness of samples in cumulation studies of this sort has been discussed previously (Tomkinson et al., 2003a). In the studies used in this analysis, sampling procedures ranged from random national samples to local convenience samples, but no samples consisted entirely of disabled, diseased, or athletic groups. In meta-analyses drawing upon a large number of studies with a very large total sample size, the sheer mass of data points will tend to dampen irregularities arising from sampling inconsistencies. This is particularly true in cases where there have been a number of different studies from the same country. Results based on one or two small-sample studies are less reliable. In the present study, this was the case for Bolivia, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore, Suriname, and Turkey. By contrast, the results for Australia, Belgium, Estonia, France, Italy, Spain, and the UK were based on at least 5000 children and at least six separate studies each. They typically represented a wide geographical dispersion. For example, the Spanish studies covered children from Catalonia, the Canary Islands, the Basque Country, and Madrid; the Australian studies represented children from every state; and the British studies included children from each of the constituent nations. There were also very large samples (475,000) for Japan and Poland. We can therefore have considerable confidence in these results.

All children were tested between 1981 and 2003. However, there is now convincing evidence that in this period performance on tests of cardiovascular fitness has declined globally (Tomkinson et al., 2003a), at a rate of about 0.4% per year. This would mean that a direct comparison of scores would tend to reflect relatively poorly on those countries where the bulk of the measurements had been taken very recently (for example, Brazil, where the mean year of testing was 2001), and artefactually enhance the performance indices of those countries where the bulk of the testing had taken place earlier (for example, Canada, with a mean year of testing of 1985). When the mean performance index for each country was regressed against the mean year of testing, the index declined by an average of 0.032 units with every year of testing. Correcting for this effect by increasing or decreasing the performance index appropriately yielded a time-corrected perfor- mance index. The ranking of countries was not greatly changed, and there was a strong correlation between the uncorrected and corrected rankings (r ¼ 0.92, P 5 0.0001). The main beneficiaries were Australia (28th to 19th place), Djibouti (20th to 12th), Japan (12th to 6th), and Poland (27th to 17th), whereas Benin (14th to 21st), Canada (10th to 18th), Mauritius (15th to 23rd), and the Netherlands (25th to 33rd) all fell in the rankings.

Motivation is likely to be an important factor in test performance, both at the individual level and at a social or cultural level. The degree of ‘‘humiliation tolerance’’, for example, will affect a child’s drive to do their best. However, none of the studies in this review quantified motivation.

Possible socio-economic correlates

There are a number of broad socio-economic factors that could, in principle, impact on children’s fitness. These include the affluence of the country, its distribution of wealth, the ‘‘critical mass’’ of young people (i.e. the percentage of children and adolescents in a society), and the importance of sport in the national psyche. In addition, one would anticipate associations between aerobic test performance and both the children’s physical activity and the incidence of paediatric overweight.

Physical activity and overweight

Several recent studies have compared physical activity among children from different countries using objective measurements. Vincent, Pangrazi, Raustorp, Tomson and Cuddihy (2003) found that Swedish children took more daily steps than Australian children, who in turn were more active than American children. Riddoch et al. (2004) found the following order in the activeness of children from different countries using accelerometry: Norway, Estonia, Portugal, Denmark. Livingstone (2001) found a north – south gradient in the obesity levels of European children, with children from the south (Italy, Spain and Greece – but also Hungary) being fatter than children from Northern Europe. More recently, Lobstein and Frelut (2003) confirmed this trend, with high levels of child overweight in Spain, Italy, and Greece compared with Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. If we consider that overweight and lack of physical activity are contributing factors to low aerobic fitness, then all of these findings are broadly consistent with the fitness differentials reported here.


There are plausible mechanistic arguments that a society’s affluence might affect the fitness of its children. Wealthy countries can provide children with the time and equipment necessary for recreation, including school-based sport lessons.

Distribution of wealth

These children also have the social capital and education to understand the importance and value of vigorous physical activity, and health care systems to protect them from debilitating childhood diseases. On the other hand, children from affluent societies may also have the time and resources for greater sedentary activity (watching television, playing video games). They are less likely to use active transport and less likely to perform vigorous household or commercial work.

In this study, there was no clear relationship between the performance index and national wealth. Per capita GDP, expressed in $PPP or parity purchasing power, was available for 36 of the 37 countries in this meta-analysis. There was no relationship between GDP and the performance index (r ¼ 0.02, P ¼ 0.89). High fitness levels were found in children from the relatively poor transitional economies of Eastern Europe (e.g. Estonia, with a per capita GDP of $PPP 11,000). Conversely, very wealthy countries could show either very high fitness (Iceland, $PPP 30,200) or very low fitness (USA, $PPP 36,300). Relative affluence, at least in so far as it is quantified by GDP, was unrelated to children’s fitness.

A case can also be made a priori that countries where the distribution of wealth is less equal will show lower fitness. Relatively disadvantaged families in these countries (typically, the under-employed) may not have adequate resources or the social capital to encourage active recreation in their children, while the relatively advantaged (the over-employed) may lack time or succumb to the effortless lifestyle of abundance. Furthermore, there is a great deal of evidence that income inequality is correlated with lower life expectancy, increased risk of cardiovascular and other diseases, impairment of children’s growth, and social disintegration (Wilkinson, 2000).

In strongly hierarchical societies, subordinate members experience high anxiety, as an evolutionary legacy of the need to be prepared for fight or flight when threatened by superordinates. This is manifested in higher cortisol concentrations and subsequent impairment of growth and immune function (Wilkinson, 2000). The most common economic measure of the distribution of income within a country is the Gini coefficient. It ranges from 0 (‘‘perfect equality’’) to 1 (‘‘maximum inequality’’). Gini coefficients for the distribution of household income were available for 30 of the 37 countries in this meta-analysis.

There was again no significant relationship (r ¼70.26, P ¼ 0.16) between the Gini coefficient relationship between the percentage of the population aged 0 – 14 years and the performance index (r ¼ 0.10, P ¼ 0.56).

There are thus few obvious socio-economic correlates of fitness at the national level. It is possible that cultural factors, which are harder to quantify, may be important. The Northern European (Baltic and Scandinavian) and, to a lesser extent, the Central European states stood out as having excellent levels of children’s fitness. This may partly be due to their long tradition of institutionalized and organized participation in physical activity, starting with the gymnastics movements in Central and Northern Europe in the
early 1800s: Jahn’s Turnvereine in Germany, Sokol gymnastics in Central Europe, and Ling gymnastics in Sweden. These led to massive youth movements throughout the twentieth century.


There was a significant negative relationship (r ¼ 70.44, P ¼ 0.007) between the performance index and the average annual temperature of the capital city of the country, so that children from colder countries performed better. This could be related to the effect of temperature on test performance: children would be expected to perform worse under very hot and perhaps humid conditions. However, it might also be expected that children would perform poorly under very cold conditions. Alternatively, the differences in performance could reflect different cultural attitudes towards physical activity in hot and cold countries, with children from very hot countries tending to avoid exertion in the heat. The most likely explanation, however, is that this relationship is an artefact created by the outstanding performance of children from Northern Europe. When these countries are excluded from the analysis, there is no longer a significant relationship between temperature and performance (r ¼ 0.18, P ¼ 0.34). Differences between the sexes Boys easily outperformed girls, the differences being significant (P 0.0001) in every age group. Because differences between the sexes are consistent across a wide range of countries with different social, political, and economic systems, they are probably biological rather than social in origin. Previous studies that failed to find differences between pre-pubertal boys and girls probably suffered from small sample sizes.


The data provided in Table II represent world standard performance on the 20-mSRT for the mean and the performance index. Children in countries with low Gini coefficients tended to have high levels of fitness, while those in countries with relatively high Gini coefficients could have either high or low fitness. The country with the fittest children (Estonia) had a relatively high Gini coefficient of 0.37. As with absolute differences in wealth among countries, variability in wealth within countries may work either to enhance or reduce fitness. Cultural commitment to sport: Olympic success Children’s fitness is likely to be affected not only by economic but also by cultural factors, such as the importance of sport and physical activity in the nation’s psyche. The national cultural commitment to sport is difficult to quantify, but a reasonable proxy might be a country’s performance in the Olympic Games. We used an ‘‘Olympic index’’ based on the number of medals won in post-war summer and winter Olympics, corrected for participation rates and for the number of medals available at each Olympics. This number was then divided by the country’s population.

There was a moderate but significant relationship between the performance index and the Olympic index (r ¼ 0.32, P ¼ 0.028 one-tailed). In particular, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, and Iceland had both a high performance index and a high Olympic index, whereas Singapore, Hong Kong, and Brazil scored poorly on both indices.

This correlation may be interpreted in several ways. In could mean that there is a ‘‘trickle-down’’ effect, whereby countries that invest a large amount of money in elite athletic performance reap benefits at the grass roots level. Equally, it may be interpreted as evidence for a ‘‘trickle-up’’ effect, whereby countries with high grass roots fitness produce athletes who can participate in elite competition. It is also possible that a third factor – for example, the extent to which a government will invest in sports infrastructure – affects each index independently. It should be noted, however, that Olympic medals may not always be a good indicator of sporting success or national interest in sport. Very small countries may be disadvantaged, and the inclusion of Winter Olympic Games tends to exclude hot countries.
Critical mass of children There is also a rationale for suggesting that aerobic test performance could be affected by the number of children in a society. A large percentage of children may constitute a ‘‘critical mass’’, which makes it politically and logistically easier to encourage youth sport. In our data set, however, there was no year of testing (1996). They may therefore serve as a yardstick to compare performances among countries and across ages and sexes.

This comprehensive review of worldwide variation in children’s aerobic test performance showed wide variation in fitness levels. Baltic and Scandinavian countries fared best; Mediterranean and developed Pacific Rim countries had the least fit children. The Northern European countries provide a model of how affluent nations can sustain high apparent fitness in their children, and further research should explore the reasons for this. Neither affluence nor the distribution of wealth appears to be important in determining children’s performance. Recent studies (Olds & Dollman, 2004; Tomkinson, Olds, & Gulbin, 2003b) have suggested that about half the decline in aerobic test performance in Australia over the last decade is associated with increases in fatness, although the causal arrow may point in either direction. The agreement in between-country variability in the incidence of overweight and test performance supports these findings. Cultural and even climatic factors may also play a role.

The data on which these conclusions are based are lacunary. There are at present very few data on developing countries, especially in South America and Asia, and data on certain age-groups in developed countries are lacking. For some countries, the sample sizes were very small, while the other studies did not use random samples. A coordinated global approach is needed to systematically monitor changes in children’s fitness. Mechanisms should be put in place to facilitate data-pooling, such as an Internet-based data repository. There is also a critical need for standardization in the way the 20-mSRT is administered and the results analysed and reported.

One thing that I think is quite amusing is that many of Australia’s top swimmers are asthmatic, and actually began swimming on a regular basis as children to help remedy it. Australia also has the highest per capita incidence of asthma in the developed world i believe.

I will post this study but without METHOD and RESULTS parts because it is a bit too long. Anyway what you have here is: introduction, discussion and conclusion.

False Start?

U.K. Sprint Coaches and
Black/White Stereotypes
David Turner
University of Hertfordshire
Ian Jones
University of Luton

U.K. sprint coaches’ employment of common racial stereotypes in explaining
the success of Black and White sprinters was studied. It was hypothesized that
Black success would be attributed to innate genetic factors, whereas White success
would be attributed to socioeconomic advantages, intelligence, and hard
work. Thirty-one sprint coaches participated in success attribution exercises.
Quantitative results revealed that Black and White photograph conditions were
generally scored similarly in relation to stereotypical factors. However, qualitative
results indicated some stereotype replication and susceptibility to natural
ability stereotypes due to an overemphasis on biological determinism, and
modest recognition of less immediately apparent developmental factors.
Although reassuring evidence was gained that U.K. sprint coaches do not
widely employ stereotypes in attributing differently the success of Black and
White athletes, there was sufficient evidence to necessitate continued vigilance.
A theoretical model of stereotype influences in sprinting and recommendations
for both coaching and coach education are presented.
Keywords: racial stereotypes; sports coaching; sprinting; success attribution
Racial stereotypes in sport remain firmly established as a kind of folklore,
with a commonly assumed notion that Blacks are more naturally
athletic than Whites (Hoberman, 2000). This has been reinforced via both
disproportionate success and overrepresentation in some sports and positional
roles, and media representation emphasizing inherent physicality
(Coakley, 2003). As a consequence, there is a view that Blacks and Whites
are biologically different in meaningful ways (Halinan, 1994) and that
Blacks dominate certain sports due to perceived genetic advantages (Davis,
1990), even in the absence of convincing scientific proof (St. Louis, 2004). Such racial stereotypes, however, fail to recognize wide within-group variations
(Bamshad & Olson, 2003) and falsely assume fixed and unambiguous
biological divisions (Birrell, 1989). Nevertheless, although the habitual
assignment of individuals to monolithic Black/White groupings may be problematic,
it remains a social reality (McCarthy, Jones, & Potrac, 2003) and one
that can have negative as well as positive connotations. The tendency to
explain Black sporting success solely in terms of inherited factors, and thus
devalue Black achievements, may be indicative of subtle racism (Davis, 1990).
Whereas White athletic success is often equated with qualities of character,
dedication, work ethic, dependability, and intelligence, Black success is often
equated with instinctive physical qualities and a lack of cognitive endeavor
(Hoberman, 2000). These assumptions attain apparent commonsense legitimacy,
and sporting mythology is reinforced (St. Louis, 2004).
For sports coaches, these apparently plausible explanations appear influential.
For example, in some team sports, positional roles are allocated in
accordance with racial stereotypes (e.g., Norris & Jones, 1998). Actual evidence
for Black genetic athletic superiority, however, is scant and often
flawed (Hoberman, 1997), and the supposed superiority of Black sprinters
appears geographically isolated and inconsistent over time (Samson &
Yerles, 1988). Clear genetic explanations for Black athleticism and the relative
contribution of sociological factors are unknown. Nonetheless, various
physiological characteristics that might explain Black sprinting success
have been postulated (Entine, 2000). If such factors are emphasized in
explaining population group variation, differences are deemed relatively
stable and unchangeable. If, on the other hand, environmental factors, such
as opportunity and access, are emphasized, such differences are considered
modifiable (Martin & Parker, 1995). Thus, coaches adhering to the former
may overestimate group differences and athletic potentials. In reality, excellence
is developed through adaptive qualities resulting from cultural values
and strenuous training. Hence, a more integrative approach is needed that
recognizes that both nature and nurture inextricably interact (Singer &
Janelle, 1999), with certain genes responding to environmental stimuli
(Shermer, 2000). Athletic performance can only be explained by a complex
combination of factors, including opportunities, motivation, and economics.
Speculated average physiological differences between races are only
part of the puzzle and have little bearing on individual achievements.
Nonetheless, simplistic assessments based on stereotypes could lead some
coaches to jump to false conclusions (Coakley, 2003).
Schema theory proposes a mental framework for the categorisation of
individuals resulting from our accrued beliefs, and knowledge, and shaped by our experiences (Atkinson, Atkinson, Smith, & Bem, 1993). Thus,
stereotyping represents a habitual cognitive process of substituting absent
information concerning unfamiliar persons, by organizing knowledge based
on distinctive features and applying supposed qualities to perceived social
groupings, thus enabling information processing efficiency (Levy, 2000).
Schematic processing models posit that stereotype schemas are stored subconsciously,
are activated automatically, and are likely to affect interactions
with stereotyped group members (Bargh, Chen, & Burrows, 1996). Several
schemata may be linked in semantic networks, and the closer two schemata
are, the more likely simultaneous activation is (Hewstone, Stroebe, &
Stephenson, 1996). For example, Blacks are instinctive athletes and Blacks
are poor decision makers. Although schemas reflect accumulated attitudes
toward other social groups, they may arise less from overt discrimination than
from attempts to simplify complexity (Myers, 2001). Paradoxically, the
price of cognitive economy is often distortion and overgeneralization
(Atkinson et al., 1993), for example, attributions constructed on the basis of
media portrayals of Black athletes. Although personal characteristics are
most powerful in person perception, where scant pertinent information
about an individual is available, we tend to rely on stereotypes (Kunda &
Thagard, 1996).
When one possesses stereotypical views, information processing is
biased by a premature cognitive commitment (Hamilton, Sherman, &
Ruvolo, 1990), with a tendency to seek stereotype-consistent evidence that
confirms preconceptions, whereas contrary information is more critically
analyzed, attributed differently, or ignored (Myers, 2001). Individuals may
attribute positive descriptions of behaviors in relation to their group, but the
same behavior is viewed as negative in another (e.g., White sprinting success
attributed to hard work, Black sprinting success to natural abilities), or
a stereotyped group member’s negative behavior may be attributed to his or
her disposition, but positive behavior is qualified by situational factors or as
a special case (Ostrom, Carpenter, Sedikides, & Li, 1993). For example, the
last White 100m Olympic champion is often explained as a consequence of
the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Games. Such stereotype-associated explanations
become extremely credible, with little motivation to recognize flawed
reasoning (Harrison, 2001).

The media tend to reproduce racial sporting stereotypes (Denham, Billings,
& Halone, 2002), and overexposure of exceptional Black athletes can distort
judgment of the group’s general athleticism, predisposing audiences to stereotype
schema (Myers, 2001). This includes Black self-stereotyping via powerful
role models (Hoberman, 2000). But although the gifted natural ability premise may seem attractive and confidence boosting, it could also invite
associations with intellectual inferiority and primitivism (Harrison, 2001).
Self-schemata may not only define past but also predict future possible
identities, enhancing processing of self-identity-consistent information and
predisposing individuals against incompatible choices (Markus & Nuris,
1986). Thus, effort may be focused toward developing abilities deemed suitable
for particular social groups, for example, guiding Blacks toward keener
practice and persistence in specific sports, with elevated expectations of success
(Harrison, Lee, & Belcher, 1999). Because athletic superiority represents
a rare positive Black stereotype, associated with fame and status, it is perhaps
unsurprising that self-stereotypes are perpetuated. Harrison, Harrison, and
Moore (2002) argued that Nigrescence theory (Cross, 1995) offers a useful
framework for understanding the relationship between Black racial identity
development and that of athletic identity. The potent influence of race-based
self-schemas may pressure Black youths to seek group acceptability by
developing abilities in particular sports and may also influence educational
and occupational patterns.
Stereotype threat theory (Steele & Aronson, 1995) holds that athletic performance
may be depressed by negative stereotypes, through heightened anxiety
and endangered self-esteem. Stone, Lynch, Sjomeling, and Darley (1999)
found that Blacks performed worse than controls when a golf task was
described as a test of sports intelligence; Whites performed worse when it
was described as a test of natural athletic ability. Baker and Horton (2003)
argue that stereotype threat may perpetuate East African distance-running
dominance, by attributing racial differences to stable external factors and disempowering
White runners by strengthening perceptions of inferiority.
Ultimately, these internalized stereotypes can lead to disidentification and
affect participation patterns (Coakley, 2003). Evidence also suggests that a
similar mechanism may operate in reverse, with positive self-stereotyping
promoting a stereotype lift effect (Walton & Cohen, 2003).
Coakley (2003) contends that societal emphasis on Black physicality
and encouragement to excel in selected sports, along with limited socioeconomic
opportunities elsewhere, causes belief in a biocultural destiny and
thus the motivation to develop abilities. Similarly, Smith (1995) speculates
that Blacks may spend longer practicing, due to having narrower opportunities,
whereas Jones (2002) found that Black footballers felt they had to be
much better than Whites to succeed, and trying harder was the best
response to racial taunting. Black athletes might be more driven to succeed,
due to cultural norms and fewer ways out of oppression (George, 1994).
However, it seems likely that various other factors discussed above may also affect racial participation and achievement. Although Blackness may
be a commonly recognized societal fact (Fanon, 1992) with strongly
defined identities, Whiteness is often considered as normal, raceless, and
less obvious (Bonnett, 1998). Because of related privileges, Whites are
more able than Blacks to adopt possible identities and are thus less
restricted by symbolic boundaries (Hall, 1996) with regard to sporting
options (Long & Hylton, 2002).
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 although racial athletic
differences are small, split seconds can separate champions and alsorans
(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 overarousal could be triggered by negative stereotypes,
whereas 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 channeling Black or White athletes
into or away from sprinting due to stereotypical assumptions.
The self-fulfilling prophecy effect is well established in education and
also appears to exist in elite sport settings (Horn, Lox, & Labrador, 2001).
It upholds that coaches’ expectations become prophetic of athletes’ subsequent
behavior (Sinclair & Vealey, 1989). For example, in basketball, it has
been shown that high- and low-expectancy athletes receive differing
amounts of feedback from coaches (Solomon, DiMarco, Ohlson, & Reece,
1998; Solomon, Striegal, Eliot, & Heon, 1996; Solomon, Wiegardt, et al.,
1996). Coaches adhering to racial stereotypes may also communicate
expectation disparity. For instance, Black sprinters may elicit higher performance
expectations and be assessed against elevated standards.
Similarly, coaches might tend to push White athletes toward longer distances,
because of perceptions of Black ascendancy in sprinting. Because
individuals with stereotypical expectancies are usually oblivious of the
process, it is difficult to persuade them that they contributed to fulfilled
expectations or that original viewpoints were erroneous (Harrison, 2001).
Although self-fulfilling prophecy effects might be pertinent with regard to
coaching and race (Smith, 1995), little empirical evidence exists. Solomon, Wiegardt, et al. (1996) did find that Black basketball players received
more instruction, whereas White players received more praise, which
might conform to natural ability and hard-working stereotypes, respectively.
However, the sample was small and results were not statistically significant.
Nevertheless, coaches adhering to stereotypical views about racial
athletic aptitudes will probably treat athletes differently, such that progress
will be inhibited or facilitated. Horn et al. (2001) highlighted the need for
further research examining the interaction between coaches’ expectations
and athletes’ race.
Coaching is complex and demanding and often requires evaluative decisions
without sufficient objective information. Thus, coaches might succumb
to faulty cognition based on stereotypes (Harrison, 2001). Literature
on the coach’s use of stereotypical assumptions is sparse. But their likely
employment and effect on athlete performance is strongly implicated in
areas reviewed above. For instance, athletes have expressed the opinion that
coaches adhere to popular racial athletic stereotypes (Jones, 2002).
Although stereotypical comments by coaches are rare, assumptions might
not be articulated due to concerns with political correctness (Entine, 2000).
Nonetheless, little should be assumed about an athlete based on perceived
race, because racial categorization could be inaccurate, the extrapolation of
perceived group differences to an individual invariably leads to flawed
judgments, and the principle of individualization (Rushall, 1985) indicates
that every athlete is a unique mixture of experience, qualities, and therefore
potential. Although coaching cannot be free of societal context (Potrac,
Jones, & Armour, 2002), nor of personal values, coaches have the ethical
duty to evaluate assumptions underlying their professional practice. The
aim of this study was therefore to assess the extent to which U.K. sprint
coaches employ common racial stereotypes in attributing the success of
Black and White sprinters. Based on previous results with American college
students (Johnson, Hallinan, & Westerfield, 1999), and U.K. novice
coaches in a higher education setting (Rasmussen, Esgate, & Turner, 2005),
it was hypothesized that Black success would be attributed to innate genetic
factors, whereas White success would be attributed to socioeconomic
advantages, intelligence, and hard work.


Generally, the hypotheses are not supported quantitatively. Although
sprint coaches did attribute the supposed success of a pictured Black
sprinter more to genetic factors than to that of a pictured White sprinter, the
difference was very small. Furthermore, sprint coaches did not attribute the
supposed success of a pictured White sprinter more to intelligence, hard
work, and socioeconomic factors than that of a pictured Black sprinter. In
fact, the success of the Black sprinter was attributed slightly more to these
White stereotypical factors than it was for the White sprinter. There was no
significant difference in the global scoring of the stereotypes, the individual
factors were highly correlated with regard to their relative scoring, the
rank orders were almost identical, and there was only one significant difference
between the scoring of the individual stereotypical factors across
the two conditions.
It is speculated that the highly similar pattern of success attribution by
coaches across the two photograph conditions may be due to reference to
the personal characteristics of successful sprinters whom they have experienced
coaching over extended one-to-one relationships. They might effectively
have become race blind and stereotype blind in the success
attribution exercise for the Black and White conditions, because they had a
personalized reference point rather than group one. Kunda and Thagard
(1996) indicated that stereotypes are far less powerful than personal characteristics
with regard to person perception. Thus, rather than measuring
stereotype scores, it is possible that the survey forms ended up measuring
the amalgamated characteristics of successful sprinters, regardless of race.
However, specific aspects do partly provide support, and there is a tendency
to score the Black athlete more highly across all stereotypes, possibly
indicating that coaches believe Black athletes to be more generally
suited to sprinting than White athletes, perhaps as a result of Black overrepresentation
in contemporary sprinting (Entine, 2000). This was evidenced
by the higher Black total stereotype score, the line of best fit in the correlation
between the relative scoring of the individual factors revealing that average
Black scores for the stereotypical factors were generally slightly higher
than White scores, and the fact that five out of eight factors were scored more
highly for the Black athlete. However, these differences were not of a great
magnitude. Nonetheless, there were some differences in the way that the
Black and White conditions were scored by coaches, and some of these were
consistent with the hypotheses, such as the White athlete being scored more
highly in relation to White stereotypes than Black stereotypes. Qualitative results indicate that sprint coaches may be susceptible to the
employment of natural ability stereotypes because of an overemphasis on
biological determinism and a lack of recognition for less immediately
apparent developmental factors. For example, more than two thirds of
coaches were of the opinion that sprinters were born, or mostly born, as
opposed to made, or a mixture of the two. Only three coaches felt that
sprinters were made through development. Similarly, more than two thirds
were willing to express that the likely balance between born and made was
in favor of the former, with the average stated percentage being 75/25. Only
four coaches were willing to express a balance in favor of made, whereas a
further four indicated a mixture of the two. More than two thirds of coaches
perceived a lack of equality of opportunity, whereas only three coaches
expressed the opinion that there was a level playing field in relation to
sprinting success. Presumably, this is at least partly a result of the perceived
importance of innate qualities detailed above.
The importance of genetic factors also accounted for the most meaning
units of all responses to open questions, again indicating a strong trend
toward biological determinism in success attribution in sprinting. However,
social support and psychological factors scored almost as high, such that
potentially developmental attributions were also well represented.
Nonetheless, meaning units directly related to the interaction of nature and
nurture and the importance of made factors combined represented less than
a fifth of all responses to open questions.
Direct generic racial comments made up only 4.5% of meaning units. But
this is perhaps not surprising, as the subject was not overtly broached with
coaches. Nonetheless, these comments are very revealing and do provide
considerable support for the hypotheses. Common stereotypes are shown to
persist in this sports-specific setting—relating to Black suitability for sprinting,
Black propensity for fast twitch muscle, Black laziness, and White hard
work (despite lack of natural ability). There were also comments pertaining
to the socioeconomic background of sprinters, which indicated that a rough
urban developmental background might be perceived as a potential advantage
for Black sprinters. This reflects socioeconomic advantages that were
included as White stereotypes in the survey form, that is, possible disadvantages
in relation to sprinting in light of the previous comments. There were
also some doubts expressed concerning the accuracy of common stereotypes
(which nonetheless indicate that they exist in this domain).
It was proposed earlier that stereotypes are rooted in schema theory
(Atkinson et al., 1993). Schemas allow us to cope with cognitive complexity,
which is certainly a demand in the coaching role. However, that benefit is tempered against issues arising from categorization, and information
processing bias, which operate to maintain the simplicity of the coping
mechanism (Levy, 2000). Thus, although schemas are conducive to
making simple associations and linking semantic networks with regard to
stereotypes (because this reduces complexity), they are not conducive
to recognizing multifaceted contributions to performance and dealing with
naturalistic paradoxes (because this increases complexity). As a consequence,
coaches may be subconsciously drawn to appealingly simplistic,
but not necessarily accurate, explanations for racial athletic performance.
Furthermore, as Harrison (2001) indicates, there is little motivation to challenge
such apparently straightforward reasoning, because stereotypical
beliefs can gain considerable credibility in success attribution. To combat
this effect, coaches need to recognize the complexity of their role and regularly
employ critical self-reflection, to review the appropriateness of
their opinions, beliefs, and values. This will require a greater consideration
of the “why” of coaching practice, as opposed to the “what.” Furthermore,
coaches need to ensure that they develop and refine their
knowledge base through continuing professional development and therefore
promote evidence-based practice.
Effectively, it is proposed that the cumulative effect of various influences
is profound in relation to the relative importance of sprinting in Black
and White contemporary subcultures, regardless of whether meaningful
physiological differences actually exist or not. Thus, it is important that all
coaches recognize the potential power of the stereotyping dynamic on athlete
development (see Figures 3 and 4).
Recommendations arising for coaches are as follows:
• Provide consistent feedback and equal practice opportunities to all athletes.
• Continually supplement subjective athlete evaluations with objective data.
• Develop strategies to reinforce athlete self-efficacy.
• Avoid triggering stereotypes.
• Value intuition, but critically reflect on knowledge and assumptions.
• Implement individualization, but recognize the influence of racial identity.
Recommendations arising for coach education are as follows:
• Develop socially adaptable and critically self-reflective practitioners.
• Address and challenge the stereotyping issue.
• Encourage ongoing knowledge development and evaluation of assumptions.
• Recruit more Black coaches.
• Help coaches address White stagnation in sprinting.


Reassuring evidence has been gained that U.K. sprint coaches do not
widely employ stereotypes in attributing differently the success of Black and
White athletes. However, there is sufficient evidence of susceptibility and
replication, via a prevailing emphasis on biologically determinist explanations
of sprinting success, to necessitate continued vigilance. Socioeconomic,
cultural, and developmental influences do not seem to be recognized so readily
by these coaches, perhaps because they are not so immediately apparent
as supposedly natural talent.
Further research might replicate this study in other sports-specific contexts
or could evaluate the experience of underrepresented athletes/coaches.
The interdisciplinary nature of this study and the use of both qualitative and
quantitative methodologies are deemed to have provided a broad and deep view of the problem, representing a contribution to a neglected area of
study. It is hoped that the resulting holistic view has provided a valuable
contribution to the literature in this area, particularly with regard to the
U.K. context, theoretical models of stereotype influence on sprint performance,
and recommendations for coaching practice and coach education.

Novice Coaches and
Black Stereotypes in Sprinting
Ricky Rasmussen
Anthony Esgate
David Turner

Novice coaches made rating judgments concerning factors contributing to the success of Black and White sprinters. Stereotypical judgments under conditions of sparse knowledge, as provided by facial photographs of unknown athletes from disciplines other than the coaches’ own, were predicted. Such judgments attribute success of Whites to environmental factors and success of Blacks to biological factors. Rated items consisted of four statements consistent with a Black stereotype and four consistent with a White stereotype. Analyses indicated an interaction between color of target and type of items such that color-consistent items received higher ratings for both Black and White targets. These findings appear to imply that stereotyping persists within the novice coach population, despite its level of sophistication.

Implications of this are discussed.
Keywords: racial stereotypes; sports coaching; success attribution

Accounts of stereotyping within cognitive social psychology emphasizes the information processing operations that enable stereotyping to operate and to exercise its behavioral effects (Feagin & Feagin, 1999).An important consideration is cognitive economy, the requirement for information processing operations to be quick, undemanding, and relatively automatic so as to free up cognitive resources for other ongoing task demands. Schema theory suggests people have amental framework for categorization of objects and of other individuals based on representations in memory that enables them to process large amounts of information rapidly and economically by emphasizing the most distinctive social features (Levy, 2000). In the absence of complete attributes, that is, under conditions of sparse knowledge, people may infer or construct characteristics from those stored memories (Hewstone, Hantzi, & Johnston, 1991). Several such schemas may be linked together in semantic networks. The more linkages there are between two memory schemas, the more likely it is that they will be activated at the same time (Hewstone, Stroebe, & Stephenson, 1996). Schematic processing models of stereotyping have gained considerable acceptance and increased application over the years as a common cognitive activity involving adaptive categorization of social information into simple representational units (Hewstone et al., 1991; Levy, 2000). In information processing terms, a number of heuristics and biases (Kahneman, Slovic,& Tversky, 1982) have been identified that appear to be operative in stereotyping in person perception and which may give rise to systematic distortions. These have their roots in intuitive statistics, that is, in the way in which individuals make use of evidence and information to arrive at conclusions. One such heuristic is the illusory correlation (Chapman& Chapman, 1969).This is a heuristic that leads to the biased view that two things, such as color and athleticism, go together in a far more straightforward way then the true evidence would suggest. A corollary to this heuristic is the overestimation bias. This bias leads people to systematically overestimate between-group differences as compared to within-group differences. Martin and Parker (1995) have claimed that individuals believing that group differences are caused mainly by biological factors may then overestimate the magnitude of small differences between groups more than would individuals believing that such differences are caused mainly by environmental factors. Moreover, when biological factors are emphasized, the assumption tends to be that group differences are fairly stable and unchanging. Racial stereotypes are most frequently constructed around a generalized assessment of skin color, hair type, and stature as well as aptitudes, intelligence, and physical ability (Birrell, 1989; Montagu, 1964). Although inherently inaccurate, such concepts may exert powerful influences on person perception (Madon et al., 1998). Thus stereotypes based on racial characteristics offer a cognitively simple means for classifying others while simultaneously failing to consider the wide variations of physical, mental, psychological, emotional, and cultural difference that may be displayed within any particular racial group. Racial notions in sport remain among the least challenged of popular stereotypes. The view is widespread that Black individuals of African ancestry are inherently superior in physical ability. Supporting evidence comes from that group’s representation level in many sports. For example, Kenyans dominate distance running (Entine, 2000), and a random African American is about 15 times more likely to reach the NFL and 28 times more likely to reach the NBA than a random non-Black individual (Sailer, 1996). This trend is also reflected in Britain where, although Blacks represent less than 2% of the total population, they correspond to at least 50% of First Division basketball players, boxing champions, the British athletic squad, and one in five professional soccer players (Cashmore, 1998; Jarvie, 1991; Owen, 1994).Black representation is even more noticeable in sprinting within athletics. Until the 1960s, almost all sprint champions were White (Coakley, 1998). Today, however, Black men absolutely dominate sprinting, holding 95% of the top times throughout the world (Entine, 2000). At the Atlanta games of 1996, Blackmen monopolized gold in all seven events between 10 and 400 meters (Sailer, 1996). In the past five Olympics, up to and including Sydney, all 40 finalists in the men’s 100 meters have been Black. The only runners ever to break the 10-second barrier for 100 meters have all been Black men, and they have done so more than 200 times (Entine, 2000). In contrast, the same population has no such achievement in swimming, apart from one single goldmedal in the 100-meter butterfly during the 1988 Olympics (Entine, 2000). It should be noted, however, that the stereotyped view of Black superiority in sport is systematically blind to continuing White successes. For example, the “White men can’t jump” thesis is factually incorrect because all of the major U.K. jumping titles in athletics are currently held by White athletes! Furthermore, biological determinist accounts typically also ignore women’s achievements. Black sporting success is commonly viewed as the result of a racially biased biological advantage. In physiological terms, it has been speculated that running superiority in those of African descent is because of less subcutaneous fat and larger muscle mass as compared to Whites. This view also serves to explain Black’s relative lack of success in swimming in terms of reduced buoyancy as compared to Whites (Burfoot, 1992; Campbell, 1991). However, if this lay theory were completely true, then one would predict that women would be superior to men at swimming, and endomorphs would be superior to ectomorphs, leaving slim White men as a large non swimming group (Mael, 1995). Because this is obviously the opposite of reality, the lay theory appears to have limited validity. There also appears to be a fundamental asymmetry in the way in which scientific as well as lay theories based on stereotyping are recruited to explain differences in sporting performance between Blacks and Whites. For example, although one can understand why it may seem interesting to study Black athletic success from the biological viewpoint, it does seem rather puzzling why at the same time biological explanations are not sought to explain why the Swiss are such good skiers (Coakley, 1998). The reason that the latter is not sought may lie as much in psychoanalytic accounts of racial constructions of self and other as detailed elsewhere (Davis, 1990; Fanon, 1970), and the causes and consequences of this one-sided fascination have been explored by a number of
writers (Hoberman, 1997; Soar, 2001). Assumptions concerning sporting potential are a likely component of the Black stereotype as presented in the media and elsewhere. One consequence of this stereotype is that it may be internalized by Black individuals who may then favor a particular career. For example, in the United States, it appears that self-schemas in early adolescent individuals of African American descent conform to sport stereotypes associated with this group. These emphasize, for example, participation in basketball, boxing, and sprinting (Harrison, Lee, & Belcher, 1999). Also, Edwards (1986) reported that Black families were four times more likely to push their children towards careers in sport and that this was often at the neglect of other areas of personal and cultural development. Within sport dynamics itself, racial stereotypes are thought to be apparent in stacking. This is the term used to describe the phenomenon in which a coach assigns athletes to certain playing positions in team sports based on their supposed racial attributes, such as speed and power, rather than their actual achieved performance (Leonard, 1987; Loy& McElvogue, 1970). Consequently, more often than not, Blacks are relegated to positions that emphasize physical rather than mental prowess with the decision-making or leadership positions filled by White athletes. Research indicates that stacking of Black players in certain positions in games such as soccer (Norris & Jones, 1998), rugby union (Jarvie, 1991), and rugby league (Long, Carrington, & Spracklen, 1997) has been a common practice in the United Kingdom in the past. Within the domain of physical education (PE) teaching in schools, work has also been done to investigate the stereotypical assumptions based upon race held by P Eteachers (Hayes & Sugden, 1999). The aim of the present study was to evaluate novice coaches’ use of the stereotype that dictates that Blacks have innate genetic ability in sprinting by using pictures of Black and White individuals posing as sprinters. A variety of studies have used photographs as a research tool for determining responses in the study of stereotypes (Johnson, Hallinan, & Westerfield, 1999; Snyder & Kane, 1990). Photographs evoke thoughts, reactions, and feelings from individuals concerning their perceptions of the pictured others where these may be based on generalizations and inferences (Snyder & Kane, 1990). Such generalizations and inferences will involve recruitment of schema knowledge from memory and application of heuristics and biases underlying stereotyping operations. Johnson et al. (1999) made use of pictures of undergraduate students to evoke racial stereotypes to explain the success of African American men and White men in collegiate basketball. Based entirely on pictures showing only the head, this study indicated that students attributed the success of White men to hard work and socioeconomic factors whereas they attributed the success of African American men to innate genetic factors. The present study used a similar methodology to that of Johnson et al. (1999) in that pictures of Black and White individuals were presented to elicit use of racial stereotypes. It was considered that the sparse knowledge base provided by head-and-shoulder-only photographs would promote use of such stereotypes as a default option in person perception. Thus, images were used as a means of mapping people’s responses to stereotyping. Although the present analysis has emphasized cognitive operations, an analysis in terms of social representation and significance may be equally appropriate (Hall, 1997; Pickering, 2001). The main purpose of the study, however, was to determine whether novice coaches, drawn from a variety of sporting disciplines, as a relatively sophisticated group of future sports practitioners would also exhibit the pattern of biases evinced by Johnson et al.’s (1999) participants. It was anticipated that novice coaches would indeed conform to patterns of Black and White stereotyping of sprinters. That is, it was hypothesized that novice coaches would attribute the success of White individuals to hard work and socioeconomic factors whereas the success of Black individuals would be attributed mainly to innate genetic factors. Following Johnson et al. (1999), four White stereotypical and four Black stereotypical statements concerned with success in sport were produced. Participants were presented with these statements along with photographs of Black and White individuals posing as athletes and were asked to rate the extent to which they believed that each factor contributed to the athlete’s success. So far as the authors are aware, this is the first study that specifically attempts to look at novice coaches’ use of racial stereotypes in attributing physical ability. The direction of this study appears to have practical importance because novice coaches will significantly affect the selection, shaping, and ultimately success of future athletes as well as the persistence of unfair practices such as stacking.


The present study has provided further evidence to support the view that stereotyped beliefs concerning the genetic origins of athletic prowess are still current, even within the coaching population. Numerical values for mean summed rating scores in the present study indicated that Black stereotype consistent items being seen as more likely than White stereotype inconsistent items to be contributing to a Black athlete’s success. Black stereotypical items emphasized nature-based, biological factors. Perhaps more surprising in the present context was the apparent symmetry of the findings with White stereotypical factors seen as being more likely to be contributing to the success of White athletes. White stereotypical items emphasized nurture-based, socioeconomic factors. What is surprising about the latter finding is that it was demonstrated in a fairly sophisticated group of trainee coaches, most of whom were actually White, and this may be taken to suggest that some degree of self-stereotyping was operating within that group. This latter finding may be taken to reflect some component of White selfidentity that may in turn reflect its formation in relation to racial constructions of self and other (Bonnett, 2000). Analysis of variance confirmed the interactive effect of color and stereotype consistency of items in estimating the contribution made by certain factors to the athlete’s success. Paired t tests confirmed the numerical difference between rating scores for stereotype consistent and stereotype inconsistent items. The results of the present study are comparable to those of Johnson et al. (1999), and both studies imply the operation of stereotyping in the drawing of inferences about the origins of Black physical ability. However, the earlier study did not report a significant difference between Black and White athletes in terms of socioeconomic factors as a function of stereotyping and the reasons for this may now be considered. There were some methodological differences between the studies. For example, although both studies used photographs to look at Black and White stereotypes in sport, Johnson et al. (1999) did not limit their study to Black and White individuals. Rather, they included a Hispanic and a composite person as well, concluding from their results that the Hispanic athlete reflected a lack of athletic identity and that the composite athlete was perceived as successful because of a combination of various Black and White stereotypical factors. As well as using different racial groups, however, Johnson et al. (1999) used basketball as their target sport. Basketball in the United Kingdom is still somewhat of a minority sport and U.S. basketball is widely perceived by the U.K. public as having very high levels of Black participation as well as high levels of popular participation in lower socioeconomic groups. In contrast, running in the United Kingdom in particular has many associations with higher socioeconomic classes and also with successful participation by Whites, especially in middle-distance running, at levels above the global norm. For many in the United Kingdom, the best-known runners are the eminent doctor Roger Bannister and the Tory Lord Sebastian Coe. Moreover, in the United Kingdom, the sport has in any case many associations with the public (that is, private) school system and its traditions of cross country running. The tendency of mainly White participants in the present study to self-stereotype may reflect this perception with successful runners seen as often having some social advantages, perhaps in contrast with the participants in the present study who were in any case not all training as running or even athletics coaches. It would be necessary to replicate the interactive effect found in the present study using other sports to determine whether self-stereotyping by Whites operates more generally. As well as the finding of symmetric stereotyping effects, the results of the present study are important in that its participants were trainee coaches who may be assumed to be at least reasonably knowledgeable about their sport and levels of participation within it by racial groups. The finding that such a group indulges in stereotyping is both interesting and somewhat depressing, the latter because one must recognize that coaches often act as significant others and mentor figures for young athletes. Although stereotypes are not automatically negative in effect, there can be a thin line between stereotyping and discriminative prejudice, such as when a teacher makes the (erroneous) assumption that being good at sport goes hand-in hand with being less academically gifted (Jarvie, 1991).Moreover, insidious processes such as self-fulfilling prophecies and stacking (Leonard, 1987) may serve to perpetuate distortions in participation levels as well as the less than effective use of available talent in teams. It appears likely that in the present study, stereotyping was accentuated by the fact that, for most participants, sprinting was not their main sport. This, coupled with the use of head-and-shoulders-only photographs, would have resulted in a very sparse knowledge domain on which participants would be left with only the simplified cognitive operations characteristic of stereotyping processes. The findings of the present study taken together with others like it imply that racial stereotyping is alive and well in sport. This appears to be the case both across racial groups and within groups when an unfamiliar sport and unfamiliar individuals are under consideration. Given that the findings are consistent with this view, however, it must also be acknowledged that some factors other than color may have contributed to the present findings, that a fairly small sample was employed, that only a single athlete within each color or sex cell of the design was used, and the findings may in any case not generalize beyond England or the United Kingdom. Moreover, a sociological analysis based on representation and signification might help situate people’s differing racial reactions in a different way by drawing on data from cultural studies (Wilson & Sparks, 2001).Even with these provisos it would nevertheless be interesting to follow a group of trainee coaches through their training to see if levels of stereotyping change with increased knowledge. If stereotyping is demonstrable within the coaching population, one might then enquire whether those coaches are either reproducing the prejudices within society as a whole or somehow particular prone to such stereotyping. Cognitively, stereotyping is based on a simplified interpretation of incomplete information using heuristics and biases rooted in faulty intuitive statistics. The best antidote to such faulty statistics is knowledge and information, and the authors hope that the process of coach education would lead to a greater appreciation of the true picture both within racial groups and within sports other than that in which the coach practices.