BI CHRONICLESnIn the recent firing of “Jimmy tlienGreek,” CBS explained its action in an”terse statement,” decrying racism.n(What they meant by this is anyone’snguess. I ban the word racism in mynintroductory sociology class, not becausenthere are no barriers to blacknadvancement but because the wordnitself is a barrier to the serious thoughtnthat is required in any struggle againstninjustice.) Now, it may be naive tonexpect rigor from television executivesnwhose idea of bringing the news to thenpeople is a teaser on a moronic 4:45ngame show, informing us that “U.S.nand USSR Go to War; Winner atn5:00.” But even by television standards,nan “explanation” that explainsnnothing is not adequate. If Jimmy thenGreek deserved firing, both he and wendeserve to know precisely what he isnbeing fired for.nAmong the offensive claims madenby Jimmy the Greek (JTG), the mostnimportant is the empirical claim that,nwhatever the cause (hereditary, environmental,nor some feedback combinationnof the two), blacks are betternathletes than whites. This is so obviouslyntrue of a group that comprises 10npercent of the population and fromnthree to eight times that percentage innthe major sports, that only an ideologuencould deny it.nIn the case of baseball, a black playernmust be considerably better than anwhite to earn a place on a majorleaguenteam: position-by-position, thenstats of black players are considerablynbetter than whites. This implies, asnsome blacks argue, that some blacksnare passed over in favor of less talentednwhites. Otherwise, the overrepresentationnof blacks in baseball would beneven greater. The same is probablyntrue in the other sports.nJTG also claimed that the superiornblack performance has a hereditarynbasis. Unpopular as this view may be, itnis almost certainly correct. The precisennature of the black physiological ad­nCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSnvantage has been only partially determined,nbut we don’t have to know thenprecise mechanism responsible for annaptitude or behavior. Even in primitivensocieties, in which understanding ofnphysiological mechanisms is nil, everyonenknows that men are taller thannwomen and that this is not merelynbecause men are encouraged to eatnmore.nThe less environment plays a role innathletic performance, the greater thenblack superiority. Long before blacksnwere permitted entry commensuratenwith their skill, it was recognized thatnthe event for which training had thenleast effect was the 100-meter dash;nthis event is a measure of inherentnspeed, and there is much less that onencan do to improve the performance ofna top sprinter than there is to improventhe performance of a marathon runnernor baseball player. I do not know thencurrent statistics, but I have been toldnthat a few years ago 48 of the top 50nAmerican 100-meter sprinters werenblack, and the 49th had one blacknparent. It is simply absurd to attempt tonexplain black superiority in sprinting asnthe result of poverty. Many groupsnhave been poor, and while environmentalnfactors such as economic opportunity,nambition, and the like havenaccounted for a somewhat disproportionatenathletic success of the poor,npoor whites have never displayed comparablenadvantages. Black basketballnplayers are not wonderful reboundersnbecause they were told as children,n”You’d better jump, jump, jump, ornyou’ll never escape the ghetto.” Blacksnare better jumpers because their physiologynmakes them better jumpers.nThey utilize and nurture this advantagenby selecting sports that are bothnavailable to them and likely to takenthem out of the ghetto.nOf course, everybody knows thatnwhen we compare the athletic prowessnof blacks and whites, we are onlynspeaking statistically; there are manynnnexceptions. It is clear, however, from anrecent New York Times column bynTom Wicker, that this obvious pointncannot be made too often. On the onenside are the 80 percent of professionalnbasketball players who are black; on thenother is Larry Bird. For Wicker, Bird’snsuccess proves that it’s all environmental.nWe could ask Wicker if there isnany conceivable evidence that wouldnchange his mind. The answer impliednby his column is no. (He probably alsonbelieves that the existence of 6’6″nwomen proves that men are taller thannwomen only because of sexist bias innour culture.)nJTG’s most controversial claim —nslaves had been bred for physicalnsuperiority — was probably the lastnstraw for CBS. Some such breedingnprobably did occur. More important,nless formal social practices may havenplayed an equivalent role, but on thenwhole, the “slave-breeding” thesis isnwildly improbable. Besides, the athleticnability of Africans of the groups fromnwhich American blacks are descendednseems equal to that of Americannblacks.nJimmy Snyder also suggested thatnblack underrepresentation in coachingnrepresents discrimination. It is notnclear what JTG used as his criterion,nbut the dearth of blacks in coachingnand managing positions in professionalnsports may well be the result of discrimination.nSince most coaches arenformer players, most people would expectnroughly the same percentage ofnblack coaches as black players. Anythingnless has been decried as discrimination.nIt is probably more reasonablento define discrimination at a pointnbelow the black percentage of players,nbut well above the percentage of blacksnin the general population. Since thenpercentage of black coaches and managersnin professional football and baseballnis well below the percentage ofnblacks in the population (and notnmuch above it in a professional basket-n