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AN ASSESSMENT OF 'BLACK IS BEST'
Martin Kane
January 18, 1971
Is the black athlete a long stride better than his white counterpart? And if not, what accounts for the immense success of the black in American sport during the past two decades? Scientists are searching for the answers to such questions and, as they probe for true racial distinctions, fascinating theories have evolved, many of them controversial
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January 18, 1971

An Assessment Of 'black Is Best'

Is the black athlete a long stride better than his white counterpart? And if not, what accounts for the immense success of the black in American sport during the past two decades? Scientists are searching for the answers to such questions and, as they probe for true racial distinctions, fascinating theories have evolved, many of them controversial

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Needless to say, not all the successes of the black man in boxing, or in other sports for that matter, have been entirely due to physical characteristics. Motivation is a vital factor. Sport is a way out of the despair of the slums, a route to social prestige among one's peers and sometimes a way to quick wealth. Few other roads to fame and financial reward have been open to the young black. Show business used to be the only other one of consequence, and even in that field the black was relegated to roles of low comedy or faithful servitude. It took a long time for Dixieland jazz to come up the river to Chicago, and when it did, white orchestras picked up the beat.

But sport in recent years has opened some very special doors. Every male black child, however he might be discouraged from a career with a Wall Street brokerage firm, knows he has a sporting chance in baseball, football, boxing, basketball or track. He might even make it in other sports. Since there is now a substantial chance for success, motivation is all the stronger. The black youngster has something real to aspire to when he picks up a baseball bat or dribbles a basketball. He has the examples of Willie Mays and Bill Russell, of Frank Robinson and Lew Alcindor to inspire him.

Other doors will surely open.

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