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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Fact Or Fiction

Author Contends Genetics Make Blacks Athletically Superior

March 23, 2000|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Entine contends there is no genetic evidence to support such claims and that, in fact, athletic excellence and intelligence have been linked through much of modern history. He writes that the stereotype is pervasive in the U.S. because of racism.

"Are whites closer to animals because they dominate the hammer throw?" Entine said. "Are Asians closer to animals because they are better gymnasts?"

Said Sailes: "The dumb jock mentality is there and it's intensified with the black athletes. But that's just a societal racist belief."

Even Entine's detractors say they are not offended by the book, that it can open channels of communication and serious discussion about the topic. But several, including Earl Smith, claim Entine missed the mark.

Smith, an African American and chairman of the sociology department at Wake Forest, wrote the foreword to "Taboo," saying Entine "has skillfully rekindled the burning questions of the innate physical abilities of African American athletes that have been the focus of speculation, research and scholarship for more than 100 years."

But Smith has reconsidered his position, citing two or three main factors, and has asked the publisher to remove his foreword from future printings.

"I respect the fact that Jon took on this issue," Smith said. "I respect the fact he approached it with a great deal of sensitivity. Based on that, I agreed to put the foreword together.

"Now that the book is out, there's a whole other subset of dialogues taking place and things are getting dirty. That's what I don't want to be a part of."

Entine said his intention was not to stir controversy, but to create a fair and open debate on a volatile subject.

"I never considered this an issue of black and white, just an issue of the human race," Entine said. "The book is about bicultural diversity, celebrating that we are different."

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