Martina Navratilova Faces Blowback For Comments On Transgender Athletes

Tennis great Martina Navratilova is facing criticism for raising questions about how sports handles the issue of transgender athletes competing within the gender they identify with. She shouldn't be.

Martina Navratilova is facing blowback after calling allowing transgender athletes to compete as members of the gender they identify with “unfair”:

An LGBT sporting group has cut its ties with tennis legend Martina Navratilova after she made controversial comments about transgender sportswomen.

The nine-time Wimbledon champion and LGBT campaigner has been accused of being transphobic after saying that it is ”cheating” to allow transgender women to compete in women’s sport, and claimed they had a physical advantage.

In an article for The Sunday Times, Navratilova wrote: “A man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organisation is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.”

She added: “It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.”

This caused controversy among other LGBT campaigners and other sportspeople, including Rachel McKinnon,  the first transgender woman to win a world track cycling title, who called the comments “disturbing, upsetting and deeply transphobic”.

Navratilova’s friend and former coach is Renee Richards, who was born Richard Raskind and competed in the US Open as a man before having gender reassignment surgery and competing as a woman

LGBT group Athlete Ally said Navratilova’s comments were “transphobic, based on a false understanding of science and data, and perpetuate dangerous myths that lead to the ongoing targeting of trans people through discriminatory laws, hateful stereotypes and disproportionate violence”.

The group added: ”This is not the first time we have approached Martina on this topic. In late December, she made deeply troubling comments across her social media channels about the ability for trans athletes to compete in sport. We reached out directly offering to be a resource as she sought further education, and we never heard back.”

A Stonewall spokesperson told The Telegraph: “Sport should be welcoming to everyone, including trans people. We need clubs and governing bodies, as the experts, to consider how their sports’ individual policies can work to be as inclusive as possible, and what advice and guidance they’re giving to ensure all people, including trans people, can take part in sport.”

More from CNN International:

Tennis great Martina Navratilova has been criticized after claiming it is a form of “cheating” for transgender women to be allowed to compete in women’s sport.

The 18-time Grand Slam winner wrote in The Sunday Times that it was “insane” that “hundreds of athletes who have changed gender by declaration and limited hormone treatment have already achieved honors as women that were beyond their capabilities as men.”

This is not the first time Navratilova, a gay rights campaigner who suffered homophobic abuse when she came out in 1981, has caused controversy with her remarks on transgender athletes.

In December she was criticized after tweeting: “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard.”

Her comments led to her becoming embroiled in an online argument with cyclist Rachel McKinnon, the first transgender woman to win a world track cycling title in October 2018.

Navratilova, a nine-time Wimbledon champion, wrote on Sunday that this debate had led to her going away to do more research on the subject, adding: “Well, I’ve now done that and, if anything, my views have strengthened.

“To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.

“It’s insane and it’s cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair.”

Her comments were labeled “transphobic” by trans rights group Trans Actual, which tweeted: “If trans women had an advantage in sport, why aren’t trans women winning gold medals left, right & center?”

McKinnon reacted to Navratilova’s article by tweeting: “It’s a wild fantasy worry that is an irrational fear of something that doesn’t happen. An irrational fear of trans people? Transphobia.”

Navratilova rejected accusations of transphobia, adding that she deplores “what seems to be a growing tendency among transgender activists to denounce anyone who argues against them and to label them all as ‘transphobes.'”

She also highlighted her friendship with Renée Richards, the transgender tennis player who campaigned to be able to play at women’s US Open.

I honestly have to say that this is an issue where I find myself somewhat stumped.\

As a general rule, my position regarding transgender Americans ought to be treated with dignity and respect, and that they are entitled to the same rights as other Americans. This includes the right to identify as whatever gender they choose and to take the steps, medical and otherwise, necessary to transition from their biological sex to the gender that they identify with. I also believe that they should be treated equally in terms of employment and in areas such as the military, which is why I oppose the Trump Administration’s efforts to reinstate the ban on transgender troops serving openly in the military. This last case is especially true given that there is extensive research and actual experience from around the world showing that this would have no significant impact. Finally, I support transgender students in public schools who wish to use the bathroom that matches the gender identity with rather than the one the corresponds to their biological sex.

I say all this to establish that I approach this issue as someone who generally supports equal treatment of transgender person legally and socially,

Saying all this, though, I am somewhat conflicted about how this issue should be treated in the world of sports. While it’s true that transgender women who are or have transitioned from being biologically male and thus don’t have exactly the same hormonal advantages that a man who hasn’t been taking female hormones and undergoing transition might have, the fact remains that they are, biologically, male and will have at least some advantages that cannot be erased by hormone treatments. Given that, it strikes me that there’s at least an open question here about whether or not it is fair to biologically female athletes who have to compete against someone who has an advantage over them.

One answer to this question, of course, is the fact that there are plenty of examples outside of the transgender area where some athletes have advantages over their competitors, and they are still allowed to compete. Taller men and women have obvious advantages in basketball, for example, but neither the NCAA or NBA restricts people from competing based on a height advantage, Professional football and baseball players who are at the top of their game have advantages over other players, in some cases because they have engaged in more aggressive training regimes and in some cases, for reasons that we don’t quite understand, they just possess the combination of skills that make them better than many of their fellow players. We don’t prevent those players from playing against people they have advantages over. If a transgender woman has some “advantage” over other women, does that make it any less fair for her to compete with other women than it is for Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, or Mariano Rivera to compete against players that obviously don’t possess the athletic advantages they do?

In the amateur and professional sports world, this should obviously be up to the governing body to determine what acceptable rules are. At the Olympic level, for example, transgender men are permitted to compete without any restrictions. Transgender women, however, are required to show that their testosterone level has been below a certain level before their first competition. To some extent at least, this should reduce much of the hormonal advantages that transgender women may have over their competitors. Since I am not an expert, I can’t say if there should be additional requirements but this certainly seems like a start. Things are slightly different in the case of public school leagues, of course, since in that case, we’re dealing with potential civil rights claims by transgender athletes who are barred from competing with the gender they identify with. Nonetheless, it seems as though there ought to be some assurances in that area as well to ensure that competitions are fair.

As I said, I’m not sure what the answer to these questions are, but I do think that Navratilova raises valid questions that ought to be answered and that it is ridiculous for her to be attacked for simply bringing up the issue. This is especially true given the fact that she has her own unquestionable record of blazing a trail for openly gay athletes in tennis and other sports that what she says is deserving of somewhat more respect and consideration than it is being given by some LGBT groups. Raising this question does not make Martina anti-trans, nor does it make her a bigot. Instead, it ought to be an opportunity to talk issues like this through without labeling the people who ask them as bigots, which is clearly designed to shut down any questioning of accepted orthodoxy.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Sports, , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    I guess my response to

    If a transgender woman has some “advantage” over other women, does that make it any less fair for her to compete with other women than it is for Michael Jordan, Tom Brady, or Mariano Rivera to compete against players that obviously don’t possess the athletic advantages they do?

    is that there’s presumably a reason we segregate men and women in athletic competition. Great male athletes have a huge advantage over the rest of us but that’s just life if we’re competing athletically. But it would be unfair if men who weren’t quite good enough to compete in the NBA went out for the WNBA, which is a league established to pit the best women basketball players against one another. (Similarly, it would be unfair for a 25-year-old to compete in high school sports.)

    Surely, if we’re going to have separate sports competitions for women and girls, we can’t allow those who are biologically men and boys to enter those competitions simply on the basis that they “identify” as women and girls. The science seems to suggest that there’s a point where hormone therapy erases most of the advantages. But I don’t know how one monitors/tests that.

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  2. Kathy says:

    Navratilova is not raising questions. She’s making pronouncements which ignore all manner of facts.

    Look, only a very small percentage of people worldwide practice any kind of sport at a competitive level. And only an even smaller percentage of people worldwide are transgender. The overlap of these two sets is minuscule.

    Anyone concerned about women in sports, then, would do better to focus on other things, such as money for women’s sports programs, interest in women’s sports, etc., than whether transgender women are allowed into major competitions.

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  3. Franklin says:

    Her rhetoric was on the strong side – “it’s insane and it’s cheating” – but I tend to agree that it’s probably not entirely fair.

  4. SKI says:

    Her claim makes no sense given she played, and defeated multiple times, Renée Richards. Was Renée cheating?

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  5. Jay L Gischer says:

    @James Joyner: I get what you’re saying. There is something about trans people you need to know: it isn’t the case that for a trans person, transitioning is a simple matter of waking up one morning and changing your mind. In his book What You Can Change And What You Can’t, Martin Seligman (former president of the American Psychological Association) arranged his chapters describing various psychological conditions in order from easiest to change to hardest. Trans people were the last chapter. They are less likely to change their mind than gay people.

    Often, they decide that in their circumstances it isn’t worth the effort to try to transition, but this leaves them unhappy and stuck.

    Activists often feel, and state, that someone’s wishes should be enough. To be sure, for the sake of using a pronoun, it probably is enough, though I would like to see the trans person make some effort, in dress, mannerism, or speech, to identify outwardly with the gender that matches the pronouns they want.

    In the case of more serious matters, such as a gender/name change order which is now possible in the State of California, it is not a simple matter of a stated desire. It requires a signoff letter from a physician. Before anyone gets gender reassignment surgery, they are required to transition in terms of dress and presentation and live that way for an extended period of time. This is to prevent mistakes, basically.

    I don’t have a good answer for the “trans person in sports” problem. I do have one friend, a trans woman, whom after transitioning started participating in roller derby. She says she thinks that prior to transition, she tried to pay as little attention to her body as possible, to minimize the dysphoria. But once she transitioned, she has far more enjoyment of bodily exertion, due to being far more comfortable in her body.

  6. James Joyner says:

    @SKI: Richards was 43 by the time she began competing on the women’s circuit, so hardly in her prime. Still, she had far more success as Renée Richards than Richard Raskin ever had on the men’s tour competing in his prime years of 19-26.

  7. James Pearce says:

    Instead, it ought to be an opportunity to talk issues like this through without labeling the people who ask them as bigots, which is clearly designed to shut down any questioning of accepted orthodoxy.

    As hard as this will be for certain folks, conditioned these last few years to go there and stay there, it’s necessary and waaaaaaay overdue.

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  8. MarkedMan says:

    Case for discussion. Laurel Hubbard, who competed as a man in weightlifting, transitioned and then won the gold at the 2017 Australasian games as a woman, beating the silver medalist by 40 pounds.

  9. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    There is no easy answer to “transwomen in sports”. There is the issue of discrimination against a historically discriminated group(the average transwoman is not Caitlin Jenner), but the problem is that differences between sexes are likely to be underestimated and that goes beyond hormones.

    In Brazil where there is a debate about that because of Tiffany, the volleyball player. There was even a trans woman that said that she would compete against men in the MMA, because it was not fair that she would compete with cisgender women.

  10. Modulo Myself says:

    “To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.

    This is probably true, but so what? There’s a character in Infinite Jest who rises to the top of youth tennis. He wins every match by holding a gun to his head and claiming he’ll kill himself if he doesn’t win. Her fears are the paranoid inverse of this idea. It’s not an argument. It might happen here or there. But so what? Is that any worse than the constant use of painkillers for injuries in the NFL? Or the crime syndicate in charge of gymnastics? Sports is really and incredibly corrupt.

    The bottom line is that trans people are not scam artists, and if that’s your published worry–that somehow the sanctity of fair play in sports is at stake here–you’re misunderstanding everything.

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  11. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I agree that sport should be welcoming to everyone. Engaging in athletic competitions where enormous sums of prize money and/or salary are at stake/involved is not sport per se. People who participate in sport need to be welcome everywhere. Professional athletic endeavors can and should decide on what rules and qualifications they wish to have for their business models to flourish as they need to protect themselves from problems related to unfair competition under whatever circumstances it might occur.

  12. Anonne says:

    She was a little clumsy but she has a valid point. Transgender and Agender people should compete according to their biological sex, not the preferred gender.

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  13. Franklin says:

    @Kathy: Depending on the relatively unknown factor of how much advantage transgender women have, I suspect the overlap of your two groups is higher than if they were completely independent variables. But it’s probably very difficult if not impossible to estimate the advantage (if any), which would probably vary by sport.

    I generally agree that people would ideally be focused on other aspects of women’s sports. But if there’s a million dollars at stake in a tennis tournament, for example, you can bet somebody’s going to take issue if one of the competitors might have an unfair advantage.

  14. MarkedMan says:

    As I learned early in my engineering career, if you go deep enough everything is complicated. One of the complicating factors here is that someone who develops as a man through puberty and into their twenties develops the muscle mass, bone structure and ligament and tendon strength of a man. That doesn’t go away even if they chemically transition.

    It is not fair that a transgendered woman be denied the right to compete as her current gender. It is also not fair that such a woman, who essentially had a quarter century or more of steroid use to develop their physique, be paired up against women who have been tested against steroid use since before they hit puberty.

    Fairness is a human construct, not a natural one. Insisting that every circumstance falls clearly on one side or another doesn’t make it so.

  15. Kit says:

    @Kathy:

    Look, only a very small percentage of people worldwide practice any kind of sport at a competitive level. And only an even smaller percentage of people worldwide are transgender. The overlap of these two sets is minuscule.

    Given this, then it follows that the chances of a transgender athlete competing at the highest levels should be practically impossible. And yet that is not the case.

  16. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    There will be a clear problem if a transgender woman wins the Olympics or some Grand Slam in tennis. And I think that’s a matter of time(Part of the problem with Tiffany in Brazil is precisely that the coach of the Brazilian team were already talking about Olympics).

  17. Gustopher says:

    This caused controversy among other LGBT campaigners and other sportspeople, including Rachel McKinnon, the first transgender woman to win a world track cycling title, who called the comments “disturbing, upsetting and deeply transphobic”.

    When this is “deeply transphobic”, it makes me wonder what McKinnon would call the people who think men are getting themselves all transgendered to go into the women’s restroom at Target and get their jollies watching women and girls washing their hands.

    A little nuance is a good thing.

    Oh wait, Navratilova also said

    To put the argument at its most basic: a man can decide to be female, take hormones if required by whatever sporting organization is concerned, win everything in sight and perhaps earn a small fortune, and then reverse his decision and go back to making babies if he so desires.

    Still not sure I would jump all the way to “deeply transphobic”, but it’s getting there. Transgender folks aren’t changing their gender to game the system, and it’s offensive to claim that.

    I don’t know what the answer is with transgender folks in sports. There are genuine physical differences, but excluding them also seems like wanting to create a WhiteNBA because black folks are dominating the the racially inclusive NBA. But an argument made based on those physical differences, in good faith, doesn’t seem horrible.

    Navratilova has strayed from good faith with that other comment though.

    It reminds me of the BDS movement, actually. There are some really good cases to be made for keeping Israel at arms length that aren’t anti-Semitic, but there are also a whole bunch of anti-Semites involved in that movement.

  18. Slugger says:

    The problem of who gets to compete and where is going to loom larger in the future. We are paying attention to this article because sex always draws clicks; I get that. However, gene modification is becoming more and more doable every day. Soon many diseases such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy will be treated. I predict that “designer babies” are just over the horizon. Height, speed, hand-eye coordination will be available as options for parents antenatally; postnatal modification of the naughty bits will look like a charming early 21st century worry. Some kid will be born with imported Ted Williams genes; where will this kid play ball?

  19. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Gustopher:

    There are genuine physical differences, but excluding them also seems like wanting to create a WhiteNBA because black folks are dominating the the racially inclusive NBA.

    But Blacks are not inherently stronger than Whites. With Men and Women it’s a completely different issue.

  20. Tyrell says:

    I can think of one sport that does group their athletes by weight: amateur wrestling. I think there are some women who wrestle men in some of the free-style and Graeco – Roman organizations. Probably not in the schools though.

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher:

    Transgender folks aren’t changing their gender to game the system, and it’s offensive to claim that

    But that’s not what she is claiming. She’s talking about what could be done. What will people do to win a medal or a pile of cash? A hell of a lot. And she knows that. She’s older than me, so certainly remembers the Soviet Women’s teams in the Olympics, insanely bulked out and so hairy they had to shave their faces. Many of these women ended up dead at early ages. And part of the effectiveness was the early age they started taking these drugs.

    Transgender women essentially take those masculinizing steroids and other compounds from birth until whenever they chemically and physically transition. “Stopping the treatment” doesn’t make the physical changes go away. As I pointed out above, this isn’t a theoretical issue. The woman who took two weightlifting golds at the 2017 Austrailasian games had transitioned in adulthood. For one medal she bested her competitor not by the 1 or 2 pounds which is normal in highly contested games, but by more than 40.

  22. MarkedMan says:

    @Slugger:

    I predict that “designer babies” are just over the horizon. Height, speed, hand-eye coordination will be available as options for parents antenatally; postnatal modification of the naughty bits will look like a charming early 21st century worry.

    Put another way, competition eventually ruins all Competitions, as people go to such extremes to win they warp the athletic endeavor into a twisted and ugly thing.

    I think you are if anything underestimating what will be possible 20-25 years down the road (with the caveat that most medical treatments turn out to be disappointments so it may take longer). Crisper may mean you can make these changes postnatally as well as through prenatal gene selection. Genes that give you better fast twitch muscles? Add them in. Genes that make you less susceptible to the pain of severe athletic training? Sure, why not. And by all means make sure every kid is exactly proportional, has no slight inward twist to a foot or hyperextension at the knee. And it will only take a generation or so before insuring a kid is athletically blessed amps up to ensuring they are custom designed to be, say, a pitcher, with freakishly long arms.

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa: Well, if blacks don’t have a larger subset that are shaped and scaled better for basketball, why do you think they dominate the NBA?

    Every suburban high school has a basketball team, no matter how white that school is, so it’s not that whites don’t play basketball. College level basketball has a lot more white people. And whites greatly outnumber blacks in the population at large. Is it upbringing, and a lack of other opportunities?

    There are differences between races — or more correctly, population subsets, which we then roughly classify as races. Some are obvious and trivial, like how pasty white folks should not wear yellow. Some are likely more subtle and trivial.

    People from higher altitudes process oxygen more efficiently. It’s just a fact. Blacks are more likely to have sickle cell anemia. Also a fact. (Also, heart disease has a racial element, but we can’t separate out stressors, so I wouldn’t rely on that)

    There are differences. And, to be clear, these are tiny differences that shouldn’t matter in day to day life.

    But, are you willing to say, definitively, that people with more recent African ancestry don’t have a greater variation in arm length or something that gives some of them a tiny boost? I have no idea one way or the other, but if it was there, then taking the best at X from a large population is going to demonstrate it.

    It doesn’t seem any less plausible than blacks having a higher incidence of sickle cell anemia.

    What would make a WhiteNBA so amazingly racist isn’t the acknowledgement that there are small variations in population groups that may affect performance in this sport, but that it would be saying we can’t enjoy watching peak athletic performance because those guys have the wrong color skin.

    Bringing this back to transgender folks, the differences there are larger. Are they now too large? Dunno.

  24. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan:

    And it will only take a generation or so before insuring a kid is athletically blessed amps up to ensuring they are custom designed to be, say, a pitcher, with freakishly long arms.

    Do we know for a fact that Michael Phelps’ parents did not travel to the future, and have him genetically modified?

  25. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Gustopher:

    Every suburban high school has a basketball team, no matter how white that school is, so it’s not that whites don’t play basketball. College level basketball has a lot more white people. And whites greatly outnumber blacks in the population at large. Is it upbringing, and a lack of other opportunities?

    In part it’s lack of opportunities. Many soccer players come from a poor backgrounds and they play soccer, a sport that does not require expensive equipment. Many White players from Argentina come from poor backgrounds, and that explains why there are so many children of recent immigrants in the French and Belgian teams in the last World Cup.

    Note that before Serena and Venus there were basically no Black players in the WTA Circuit, and during the last US Open there was only one White player in the semifinals.

    And there are some sports with lots of Blacks, and very few Blacks.

    Besides that,the problem of Blacks inherently physically stronger is a dangerous racist troupe, that’s used to kill and incarcerate Blacks(There is research showing that Whites overestimate the size and strength of Black Men).

  26. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: It may seem like it is obvious that African Americans have some genetic advantage, but history has a way of making such ideas seem silly in retrospect. 100 years ago it was “obvious” that African Americans could never compete athletically with white Europeans and, given that assumption, there were all sorts of logical reasons as to why that might be.

  27. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: I’m not saying they do or they don’t have some genetic advantage, merely that it is silly to assert definitively that they don’t, when we can measure other significant differences that clearly don’t have direct sociological components.

    It’s perfectly fine one way or the other if their extremes are slightly better — I tend to be very strongly into the “celebrate the differences” camp rather than the “were all equal” camp.

  28. Gustopher says:

    @Andre Kenji de Sousa:

    Besides that,the problem of Blacks inherently physically stronger is a dangerous racist troupe, that’s used to kill and incarcerate Blacks(There is research showing that Whites overestimate the size and strength of Black Men).

    Totally agree, but that’s a separate (overlapping) issue. I expect any differences are at tiny edge cases.

    We need much better conflict resolution training for our police, as well as inherent bias training. We are sending most of our police out there without all the tools they need to do their job.

    We do as much of a disservice to our police as our police do to black folks. It’s a direct correlation there.

    As a 6’5” white man, I’ll be perceived as less of a physical threat than a 6’ black man. That’s wrong.

    (And a little emasculating for me… come on, I can be dangerous… ok, fine, I’m really not dangerous at all)

  29. Kathy says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Transgender women essentially take those masculinizing steroids and other compounds from birth until whenever they chemically and physically transition. “Stopping the treatment” doesn’t make the physical changes go away.

    You’re wrong.

    Muscle mass is highly dependent on activity. It can increase and decrease. Astronauts lose muscle mass in orbit, because their muscles simply can’t do much in the way of exertion.

    Exercise builds muscle mass. See any serious body builder, of any sex, and compare their weight before they started training and after a couple of years. the extra mass is not fat or bone.

    And if the effects of hormones on muscles were permanent, then athletes who take steroids would only need to do so for a few months or years, then they could stop and enjoy their permanently increased muscles for the rest of their careers. In fact they need to take them constantly.

    Transgender women may have advantages in some ares in some respects, but not the ones you’re bringing up.

  30. Tyrell says:

    @MarkedMan: There are some possible changes that would be good: grow replaceable organs and teeth, a cure for baldness, phase out nearsightedness.

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  31. James Pearce says:

    @Gustopher:

    Well, if blacks don’t have a larger subset that are shaped and scaled better for basketball, why do you think they dominate the NBA?

    It has nothing really to do with genetics and everything to do with skills. Most of the white people in the NBA aren’t from the US, and they’re just as big and just as skilled as their African American counterparts. Very few white kids in the US, even the talented ones, will be given the requisite time (by parents, coaches, etc) to get NBA good, whereas a black kid with promise will probably get those resources.

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  32. Andre Kenji de Sousa says:

    @Kathy:

    And if the effects of hormones on muscles were permanent, then athletes who take steroids would only need to do so for a few months or years, then they could stop and enjoy their permanently increased muscles for the rest of their careers

    It’s something permanent. That’s a debate in the bodybuilding community, where many people argue that natural body building does not exist. In fact, that’s one reasons why people want transgenders to be able to make the transition the earliest possible.

    @Gustopher:

    Totally agree, but that’s a separate (overlapping) issue. I expect any differences are at tiny edge cases.

    I don’t know. I think that with Black Men any idea of physical superiority is dangerous, to say the least. These are dangerous waters.

  33. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gustopher: No, just no. You want to know why we dominate professional sports? Because culturally, this brings a much much much larger status in our community than it does in the white community. There are large swaths of white people that don’t give a damn if you can play ball. These people have other occupational statuses they idolize== and they have the means to achieve success in other fields which offer better odds of realizing than being a pro ballplayer.

    Its a big deal in my community if you can play football or basketball. You have instant status in your local community. White people associated with your school come out of the woodwork to help you. You have instant status with important white people vested in sports in that community.

    I played basketball through grade school and for a couple of years of college. White kids don’t take sports the same way that we do. There are millions of black kids for whom its pro-ball or bust. The white kids this mentality applies to is orders of magnitude lower. The hungrier demographic is going to work the hardest to maximize their talent and achieve the majority of the opportunities. The same dynamic is how Hispanics started replacing whites and blacks in baseball.

    My community wastes an awful lot of human capital for the sake of sports and entertainment…neglecting other occupational pillars of society (i.e engineers, lawyers, doctors, etc) where we’d be positioned to ensure equities of the black community are accounted for– as opposed to needing “social justice” initiatives pushed by politicians that don’t have a snowballs chance in hell of ever being implemented.

  34. Franklin says:

    @Tyrell: I am aware of a middle school girl who was on the wrestling team and competed against all the boys. She did okay, too.

  35. Kit says:

    @Jim Brown 32: While your arguments strike me as undeniable, I don’t feel that they necessarily refute what @Gustopher was saying.

  36. MarkedMan says:

    Looking for genetic (formerly known as racial) reasons why one large group of people is advantaged over another large group of people has long been a suckers game. Trying to extrapolate from the few to the many has inevitably fallen apart.

    For years I was interested in IQ, this strange number which we somehow agree is a proxy for mental superiority. Inevitably, part of this is the debate of how much of IQ is heritable. There are two books that speak to the hubris of people saying “now that we are scientifically advanced, we are ready to have strong opinions on this subject.” The first is “The Mismeasure of Man” by Stephen Jay Gould, a collection of centuries worth of scientifically determined and widely held “facts” about racial characteristics that fell apart completely as we learned more. Read that book and then reread the Sherlock Holmes stories or Dickens’ works to see just how generally accepted these theories were. Conan Doyle in particular spent a lot of time describing the shape of people’s skulls.

    The second book is “The Bell Curve” which I read when it first came out, and before it had become quite so controversial. I came away with the impression that while I couldn’t decide whether the author was a racist or just a contrarian, I felt he had missed the most important finding in his data. First, his two bell curves for the white race and the black race don’t differ by all that much, 3-5% if I remember correctly. To paraphrase James Randi, “Be wary of people who make big arguments based on data near the margin of error.” More important though is the simple visual fact that if you overlay the two curves, the vast majority of people fall into the overlap. And it isn’t the “white race” who calculates differentials or the “black race” who runs relays, but individual people. Everyone reading this, myself included, most likely exists in the overlap.

    There are a hundred other reasons to be highly skeptical of thinking we now have a deep enough understanding to make pronouncements. Usually it takes decades or centuries to realize just how foolish these efforts are. But there is an example of popular wisdom proved completely wrong in recent history. Starting in the 50’s cloning became fascinating to the general public. And one thing everyone “knew” is that clones are identical. But in 2001 the first cat was cloned, one of highest mammals cloned at that time. And the clone came out a different color than the original.

  37. just nutha says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    There are millions of black kids for whom its pro-ball or bust.

    Which, unfortunately means that for millions of kids competing for literally dozens of jobs, it’s bust. As a society, we need to do better, and as a community, you need a better plan. I don’t know where it’s coming from, though.