The Sports Taboo – English 1 page Essay
In his essay, “The Sports Taboo” Malcolm Gladwell writes about blacks and whites and how they compare when in comes to athletic ability. He expresses how it’s all right to talk about medical differences: such as blacks having a higher incidence of hypertension than whites except it’s taboo to talk about racial differences in athletic abilities.
Malcolm Gladwell starts out his essay by writing what whites are supposed to be good at and what blacks are supposed to be good at. “In football, whites play quarterback and blacks play running back; in baseball whites pitch and blacks play the outfield.” (135) He gives all these ideas and reasons as to why blacks seem to have better athletic identity and even he himself appears to believe that if you are white, you stand no chance. On page 136 he says, “It was as if I saw his whiteness as a degenerative disease, which would eventually claim and cripple him.” I think that in this paragraph, Gladwell demonstrates how stereotypes work and how much they influence your thinking. If this is the case, then the reason you notice less white people excelling in sports could be because they them selves are influenced by the stereotype that they will never be good enough. I agree with Gladwell’s thoughts on stereotyping and how much people are affected by it. He also makes an example of this when comparing boys and girls. Gladwell writes that their differences in math scores could be because society expects boys to do better. This is true because society has a huge influence on people and their thinking. For example: why don’t many girls become engineers and boys become nurses?
I think that, after reading the entire essay, Gladwell believes there is more than one factor that contributes to great athletic ability. One of them is genetics. “According to the medical evidence, African-Americans seem to have, on the average, greater bone mass than do white Americans-a difference that suggests greater muscle mass.” (p137) I totally agree that genes have something to do with it, but it’s not the only factor. Another factor that contributes to athletic ability is effort. Gladwell writes how athletic success depends on the individual and their desire to be the best.
I believe that this is the most important factor and if you want something enough, you will put your all into it and try so much more than someone who doesn’t have the will. Gladwell gives a great example at the end of his essay. He describes a time when he was running with two of his buddies and then one day his buddies’ decided to run straight up Signal Hill backwards. “What I do know is that such questions were irrelevant, because, as I realized, they were willing to go to far greater lengths to develop their talent. They ran up the hill backward. I ran home.” (p144) This finalizes his views that athletic success depends on both, genetics and drive.