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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Bud Selig to create task force on blacks in baseball

Major League Baseball, alarmed by its historic low 7.7 % of African-American players on opening-day rosters this season, will announce the creation of a formal task force Wednesday to help reverse the decline, three MLB executives told USA TODAY Sports.

The executives spoke on the condition of anonymity because Commissioner Bud Selig has yet to announce it.

The 17-member committee will consist of owners, executives and coaches, including Hall of Famer Frank Robinson, Chicago White Sox vice president Kenny Williams, Tampa Bay Rays owner Stuart Sternberg and Southern University baseball coach Roger Cador.

Selig is urging them to find ways to increase the pipeline of diverse athletes to baseball, particularly African-Americans.

The African-American percentage in baseball this season is the lowest since the Boston Red Sox became the final team to integrate its roster in 1959, according to a USA TODAY Sports study that includes major-league players on the opening-day disabled lists. It’s a drop from 8.05% last season, a dramatic decline from 1995 when 19% of the rosters were African-American players, and far from the peak of 27% in 1975.

“I never thought I’d see anything like this,’’ Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan told USA TODAY Sports in a telephone interview from Los Angeles on Tuesday. “But I’ve seen it coming. There, for a long time, there were a lot of African-American players to look up to and emulate, but there’s not enough big stars now to dissuade them from basketball and football.’‘

...“I’m not sure there’s a way to stem the tide,’’ said Morgan, Cincinnati Reds senior adviser. “There has to be more involvement to attract athletes to come here. Let’s hope this committee will help. There’s no doubt the movie will open eyes, but after that, let’s wait.’‘

Thanks to Wreck.

Repoz Posted: April 09, 2013 at 10:36 PM | 359 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   101. flournoy Posted: April 10, 2013 at 08:48 PM (#4410276)
It's why I don't think of triathalons [sic], track and field etc in the same way. Fine motor skills are completely non-important for them.


Thanks for reporting in, Mr. Not Familiar with Track and Field.
   102. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:15 PM (#4410299)
It's why I don't think of triathalons [sic], track and field etc in the same way. Fine motor skills are completely non-important for them.


Thanks for reporting in, Mr. Not Familiar with Track and Field.


No kidding. There's a reason why the Olympic decathlon winner is generally known as the finest athlete in the world.
   103. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:28 PM (#4410305)
I don't even see how basketball is more demanding than Soccer.


Okay, I'm just not seeing how soccer is in the same universe as basketball. I mean, yes, there's more of an endurance component, but there's so much less contact and so much less demand for explosiveness, strength, and even speed. I'd call body control and finesse/touch a wash, while saying basketball is more demanding in terms of anaerobic recovery. NBA basketball, especially played as LeBron does or Jordan did, is about as demanding as major sports get.
   104. Dale Sams Posted: April 10, 2013 at 09:57 PM (#4410345)
Okay, I'm just not seeing how soccer is in the same universe as basketball. I mean, yes, there's more of an endurance component, but there's so much less contact and so much less demand for explosiveness, strength, and even speed


Maybe, but the contact you get is joint shattering.

No.

No.

But you're right about basketball not being in the same universe as soccer.
   105. Dale Sams Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:03 PM (#4410352)
MV...as a soccer goalie who has played with capped players allow me to say...stop. Just..stop.
   106. Mirabelli Dictu (Chris McClinch) Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:05 PM (#4410354)
Show me ANY evidence of a soccer player being as explosive as an NBA guard. Haven't seen much evidence of any soccer players who are as fast as a John Wall either. Honestly, the offside rule blunts the effectiveness of speed anyway.
   107. Bourbon Samurai Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:30 PM (#4410369)
I'm all for giving boxing and mma props, but not sure that it's really a complete athletic endeavor. With hockey you have a combination of strength, agility, coordination, endurance etc..... with the fighting sports, endurance is less important in the same degree. I'm not saying it's a requirement, or it doesn't figure majorly into it once in a while(at least with boxing and 10+ rounds) but it's still not the same.


Yeah, I have to disagree here- 25 minutes of a top level MMA bout is vastly, vastly more exhausting than 60 minutes (playing time) of football or whatever team sport you care to name.

There is no place to hide, or pause, unless you are completely in control.

   108. Kurt Posted: April 10, 2013 at 10:54 PM (#4410390)
I'm not clear why people keep citing cost, so I must be missing something. What is the problem with the cost to play baseball as a youth? All you need is a glove (which lasts for years), maybe a pair of new shoes, and a league fee. This is comparable to basketball.

If you want to seriously play baseball, it's expensive. In basketball you can take your ball down to the park and practice all day, either by yourself or in pickup games. In baseball if you want to play in games, you need to pay the league fee. If you want to practice, real batting cages are expensive.

   109. SoSH U at work Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:15 PM (#4410397)

If you want to seriously play baseball, it's expensive. In basketball you can take your ball down to the park and practice all day, either by yourself or in pickup games. In baseball if you want to play in games, you need to pay the league fee. If you want to practice, real batting cages are expensive.


That, and most of the serious players are playing very expensive travel ball, getting time in cages and often using private instrutors. And kids at most levels have all of their own equpiment (bats, helmets, etc.). Now, in some cases the perceived expense (much of that equipment is quite unnecessary, particularly the high-end stuff) vastly exceeds the real cost, but it's still a barrier to entry.
   110. cardsfanboy Posted: April 10, 2013 at 11:27 PM (#4410399)
Thanks for reporting in, Mr. Not Familiar with Track and Field.

No kidding. There's a reason why the Olympic decathlon winner is generally known as the finest athlete in the world.


And there is this entire belief in clutch, that heart or defense determines championships etc...just because people know something, doesn't make it real. Mind you I wouldn't argue too much about decathletes, just reminding that as you move further away from the major sports, it's going to be easier to find a niche sport that is arguably more athletic.

But when someone is talking about best athletes, they are often talking about raw physical abilities, and as I mentioned before, when I think of it, I also include fine motor skills, which I admit might be contrary to what the majority means when they are talking athlete, but if you are going to bother to include baseball as athletes, you have to include the skills that are necessary to baseball.

Show me ANY evidence of a soccer player being as explosive as an NBA guard. Haven't seen much evidence of any soccer players who are as fast as a John Wall either. Honestly, the offside rule blunts the effectiveness of speed anyway.


seriously? I would bet that the top 20 soccer players in the world would stomp the top 20 nba players in the world in a foot race...and it wouldn't even be particularly close.

Yeah, I have to disagree here- 25 minutes of a top level MMA bout is vastly, vastly more exhausting than 60 minutes (playing time) of football or whatever team sport you care to name.


You must be watching a different mma than I have. most of the fights are 5 minutes of light dancing in the ring, a little grappling, and maybe a burst of energy that is equivalent to a groundball to the shortstop. rest, repeat. I'm not saying it's easy or anything, but it's endurance is not on par with what you would expect from a basketball or hockey(or even nascar) player. Most wide receivers do more exercise in a quarter than a typical mma fight.

I'm not arguing against mma, but everyone seems to take their pet sport and try to prop it up with the most extreme examples of it, when that is the exception not the rule. A typical football/baskeball/hockey/soccer player is going to rely on endurance way more than a typical mma fight.
   111. flournoy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4410431)
And there is this entire belief in clutch, that heart or defense determines championships etc...just because people know something, doesn't make it real. Mind you I wouldn't argue too much about decathletes, just reminding that as you move further away from the major sports, it's going to be easier to find a niche sport that is arguably more athletic.

But when someone is talking about best athletes, they are often talking about raw physical abilities, and as I mentioned before, when I think of it, I also include fine motor skills, which I admit might be contrary to what the majority means when they are talking athlete, but if you are going to bother to include baseball as athletes, you have to include the skills that are necessary to baseball.


Above lie the words of someone who has never pole vaulted, thrown javelin, run hurdles, or made a blind relay exchange. Thanks for your consideration.
   112. Dale Sams Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:39 AM (#4410447)
I would bet that the top 20 soccer players in the world would stomp the top 20 nba players in the world in a foot race...and it wouldn't even be particularly close.


I would bet the top 20 NBA players pull a hammy before they can all get up to speed. A basketball court is only 94 feet long. And with very little room at either end to slow down. Basketball players are very good at what they do. Playing basketball.

Now admittedly, most are great athletes. But there's no frigging way Kobe or LeBron beats a top flight soccer player in a 50 yard footrace. And hell, I don't even think that's definitive way to measure athleticism. I just object to the idea that basketball players ROFLstomp soccer players. And I have all the respect in the world for playing basketball. I played everyday one summer and come fall could outjog every player on my soccer team. If I coached a HS soccer team, during the winter months my goal would be to get my team good enough to compete with the JV basketball team in Basketball.
   113. Dan Evensen Posted: April 11, 2013 at 01:01 AM (#4410462)
Sorry for checking in late.

As far as the genetics versus culture argument goes, I honestly have a difficult time understanding those who believe "pure athletic ability" is entirely genetically determined. Cultural factors clearly play a larger role in determining excellence at any given sport than ill-defined "athletic ability" that is essentially seen as a genetic gift (as if Jordan or James never needed to practice or hone their skills!).

Michael Jordan's lack of success in minor league baseball is not an indicator that baseball is "harder" than basketball, nor does it say anything about Jordan's genetically-determined "athletic" talent. It's got everything to do with him spending a lifetime working on his basketball skills at the expense of his baseball skills.

The fact that there are no North Korean players in Major League Baseball has nothing to do with the athletic ability of North Koreans (as noted above). It has everything to do with the lack of a baseball culture in North Korea. In fact, the fact that there has never been a North Korean NBA player has nothing to do with genetic, athletic or cultural characteristics, and has everything to do with politics (or have you all forgotten about Ri Myung-Hun?).

There are more MLB players from Taiwan than from mainland China. Does this mean that Taiwanese athletes have genetic gifts superior to their mainland counterparts? Does it mean that there is some disposition to excellence in baseball playing in Taiwan? Or does this have something to do with the place of baseball in Taiwanese culture?

If MLB is concerned about the popularity of baseball among "blacks," it should address baseball's role within "black" culture. The entire discussion about racial genetics is completely speculative and, frankly, is entirely useless.

---

I'm not entirely sure on the specifics either, but it seems on first blush it's a lot easier and cheaper to play unorganized basketball every day than baseball. You need a relatively large number of kids to play a passable game of baseball, whereas basketball you can get by with as few as 4 or 6. And while in baseball you need a bunch of kids, each with his own glove, and shoes etc., with basketball you really just a group of people to come up with one ball between them. Depending on where you live finding a place to play could be an issue as well. Where I grew up it was much easier finding a field suitable to play some baseball on, whereas I can see some places the reverse being true.

I grew up in the Salt Lake City suburbs in the 1990s. Before the 1994 strike killed their interest off, I had friends who enjoyed baseball. We all came from relatively well-off homes, had our own gloves and a couple of bats between us, as well as a few baseballs. We could never find a suitable place to play, however, despite the fact that there were several parks within walking distance. You really need a large lot to play a game without risking breaking somebody's windows.

We also could never find enough kids to make it fun. If we had enough kids, nobody wanted to play in the outfield. Plus, nobody really had the time to spend the entire afternoon outside.

We usually played basketball, mostly 3 on 3 games. Almost every other house in my neighborhood had a basketball hoop on the top of the garage, and my neighbors had a very nice half court setup on the side of the house. All you needed was a ball; there was always a place to play, and it was always easy to find somebody willing to play with you.
   114. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: April 11, 2013 at 01:16 AM (#4410467)
Yeah, I have to disagree here- 25 minutes of a top level MMA bout is vastly, vastly more exhausting than 60 minutes (playing time) of football or whatever team sport you care to name.

Yeah, as somebody pointed out, there's not really "rest" there.
I worked on a case awhile back where a guy claimed he'd been jumped by two people - one a very strong wrestler type, and the other hitting him with whatever was in reach - and the guy fought with them for 45 minutes. Not only surviving, but surviving without significant injury. Kinda sets the Spidey-senses to tingling.
   115. Howling John Shade Posted: April 11, 2013 at 03:15 AM (#4410484)
Show me ANY evidence of a soccer player being as explosive as an NBA guard. Haven't seen much evidence of any soccer players who are as fast as a John Wall either. Honestly, the offside rule blunts the effectiveness of speed anyway.

Count me as another who doesn't think this would be close. NFL receivers and dbs would be an interesting contest, but I'd take CRonaldo, Gareth Bale, Unfat Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Roberto Carlos, Walcott, etc over any NBA player when it comes to speed (I challenge you to describe young Ronaldo without using the words explosiveness or speed or their synonyms).

Edit: This post was mainly an excuse to link to Bale v. Inter vids.
   116. Greg K Posted: April 11, 2013 at 04:36 AM (#4410486)
I think I've yet to see a Spurs game where Gareth Bale didn't do something amazing.
   117. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 11, 2013 at 07:01 AM (#4410498)
I think boxing is hands-down the most athletically demanding sport. It requires impressive strength, speed, power, hand-eye coordination, and agility all while getting your brains knocked in.


Exhibit A through Z on how wrong you are.

It matters because IQ has predictive power. There are a lot of ax grinding partisans out there who try to obfuscate this, but they're in the same position as a guy saying, "Sure your idea may work in practice, but it doesn't work according to theory, so let's disregard it."

If you know that different groups have differing IQs due to genetic differences, you can modify your social policy accordingly. That can have tremendous value.

Doubtful. If we were actually able to tell one race had an IQ of 102, and another had an IQ of 98, and we knew IQ was predictive of success, would we really change current social policy?

Anyway, if we can't currently tell, how likely is it there's really a meaningful difference?

Please tell me more about how feeling that African Americans are better athletes is racist. Whom is it racist towards? Whom do I apologize to?

Me, for bringing it up on this website knowing what it would lead to.
   118. OsunaSakata Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:14 AM (#4410520)
I'm not entirely sure on the specifics either, but it seems on first blush it's a lot easier and cheaper to play unorganized basketball every day than baseball. You need a relatively large number of kids to play a passable game of baseball, whereas basketball you can get by with as few as 4 or 6. And while in baseball you need a bunch of kids, each with his own glove, and shoes etc., with basketball you really just a group of people to come up with one ball between them. Depending on where you live finding a place to play could be an issue as well. Where I grew up it was much easier finding a field suitable to play some baseball on, whereas I can see some places the reverse being true.

As far as relative expense for schools...I would guess venue would also be a big factor. Especially urban schools might have a difficult time finding a baseball field? Whereas I'm sure most schools have a gym with some nets.


That explains the advantage basketball has over baseball with African-Americans, but not football over baseball. There you have to point to the number of college scholarships.
   119. jmurph Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:46 AM (#4410540)
NFL receivers and dbs would be an interesting contest, but I'd take CRonaldo, Gareth Bale, Unfat Ronaldo, Thierry Henry, Roberto Carlos, Walcott, etc over any NBA player when it comes to speed (I challenge you to describe young Ronaldo without using the words explosiveness or speed or their synonyms).


Sorry for the early morning negativity, but all of the certainty in this conversation is sort of silly. And yes, I realize it's the internet. But come on, you're pointing to the fastest guys over the past 20 years in the world game as if that means something (especially when a basketball fan can throw out Tony Parker and Russell Westbrook and John Wall without even thinking, and a football fan can throw out the numerous DBs and WRs who ran elite college level track, and baseball... just kidding about baseball).

How about this, as a Man City fan, I'll give you Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott. Barry nearly literally can't kick the ball with his right foot, and he's slower than any of our mothers. Lescott is a big clumsy doof as international soccer goes, and he is maybe 6'2? Each of them are very good at their sport and have multiple caps between them. Walcott is... 5'10, maybe? 6 feet? A young Dwyayne Wade was roughly in the same ballpark as him in terms of speed, and was also 6'3 or 4 with an insane vertical leaping ability. Surely that counts?

Two things have always stood out to me in these two sports: one, the stamina of soccer players is incredibly impressive. And two, elite NBA players are ridiculously fast and strong and explosive, and in many cases are doing it while being in the top 1% or so of height.
   120. TomH Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:36 AM (#4410579)
where's the task force on lack of white men playing basketball? latin americans not playing hockey? yeesh, Bud.
   121. The Good Face Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:05 AM (#4410608)
Doubtful. If we were actually able to tell one race had an IQ of 102, and another had an IQ of 98, and we knew IQ was predictive of success, would we really change current social policy?


Probably not. It's not a big enough difference to justify big changes. Factoring in things like culture and margin of error, those scores are close enough to not have a ton of meaning. However, if one race had an average IQ of 85 and another had an IQ of 100, then yes, we should take that as prima facie evidence that there are meaningful differences there and consider adjusting accordingly.

Anyway, if we can't currently tell, how likely is it there's really a meaningful difference?


We can tell and the current evidence is that there are meaningful differences. However, people pointing this out are usually shouted down as racists, which tends to stifle discourse and chills the undertaking of further research necessary to nail this stuff down. East asian nations like China lack this squeamishness and will probably wind up doing it for us eventually. We probably won't like the truth when it comes out, but better that than ignoring it.
   122. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4410622)
There's a reason why the Olympic decathlon winner is generally known as the finest athlete in the world.


Not to be churlish (he said churlishly), but it occurs to me that Olympic decathlon winners tend to be sort of obscure, at least of late, as far as "the finest athlete in the world" goes.

Who's the most recent one? The one before that? Before that?

I guess Bruce Jenner won the event a few decades ago, & before that there was ... Rafer Johnson? Maybe Bob Mathias awhile before that? Any other "finest athlete(s) in the world" that the average person can name?

(Obviously, I'm speaking for no one but myself here.)
   123. cercle Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:49 AM (#4410659)
Any other "finest athlete(s) in the world" that the average person can name?


Dan vs. Dave! (don't ask me their last names)
   124. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4410661)
Yeah -- thought of them when I was writing that because of the advertising hype & the way the whole set-up turned into a fiasco.
   125. SoSH U at work Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:56 AM (#4410662)
O'Brien and Johnson, I think in that order (though I'm not 100 percent sure). One of them didn't make the Olympic team because he didn't make his opening height in the pole vault.
   126. Bitter Mouse Posted: April 11, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4410682)
I remember seeing somewhere that a huge percentage of 7 footers play professional basketball. Unless we are counting height as athletics that would suggest that basketball can't be the most atheletic sport. (And yes I am late to the discussion)
   127. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: April 11, 2013 at 11:14 AM (#4410693)
I remember seeing somewhere that a huge percentage of 7 footers play professional basketball. Unless we are counting height as athletics that would suggest that basketball can't be the most atheletic sport.


You just hate tall people.
   128. zack Posted: April 11, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4410737)
How about this, as a Man City fan, I'll give you Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott. Barry nearly literally can't kick the ball with his right foot, and he's slower than any of our mothers. Lescott is a big clumsy doof as international soccer goes, and he is maybe 6'2? Each of them are very good at their sport and have multiple caps between them. Walcott is... 5'10, maybe? 6 feet? A young Dwyayne Wade was roughly in the same ballpark as him in terms of speed, and was also 6'3 or 4 with an insane vertical leaping ability. Surely that counts?

All this proves is that soccer selects for skill more than athleticism. Because basketball is essentially all 1v1 matchups, it is by far the sport that rewards athleticism the most. In soccer, if you nutmeg someone, you probably have to nutmeg 3 other guys before you get into a shooting position, and shooting requires a whole other set of skills. In basketball, if you deke someone, you run up and dunk. Obviously, it's not exactly that simple, but that's the basic structure.

The other thing non-soccer fans don't understand is the difficulty of playing a game with your feet. The first thing I was annoyed by when I started watch more soccer, being a hockey fan, was how often 30 million dollar players could miss-hit simple passes, or shoot and have the ball sail 40 ft over the net. It's because controlling a ball with your feet is about an order of magnitude more complicated than doing so with your hands. Especially on a grass field. This isn't a defense of soccer, I'm not sure I even like the game that much, but like any sport, there are layers to it that you won't understand until you put in a good 20 hours of earnest watching.
   129. jmurph Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:08 PM (#4410778)
Just to be clear, my post wasn't intended as an argument for basketball players over soccer players. Just against the idea of drawing conclusions from each sport's best athletes. Also, soccer is the sport I watch the most of, by far, and this has been true for several years now.
   130. zenbitz Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:15 PM (#4410789)
as one of the BBTF resident genetics pros, let me help yall out here.

1) "Race" is a socio-cultural construct, not a genetic one.

Ancestry is a biological concept, and ancestry influences genetic factors, including skin color. Skin color, of course, is only partially inherited. Seeing as we tan.
Height itself is only 60-80% genetic (although that's height VARIANCE). When you are in the tail of the curve about about 6'4" maybe it's more like 99% genetic, I have no idea.

2) Athletic ability has a large genetic component. What fraction is unknown, as it's very difficult to measure _innate_ athletic ability, only current athletic ability.

3) There are certainly ancestral components to whatever set of genetic variants result in enhanced innate athletic abilities. But they are probably only weakly correlated with skin color aka "race".


4) When we have 1,000,000 human genomes sequenced and phenotyped instead of 1,000 this will all become more clear. Call it 2020 +/- 5 years. And yes, I am aware that 2015 is two years away.

5) All the above applies to "intelligence" as well, with the caveat that innate intelligence and current intelligence is even HARDER to accurately measure than athletic ability. However, some components of it are quite tractable, at least in the "current" category. I would be wary of any measure said to be "innate".


Finally, the question "are soccer or basketball players the better athletes?" is an asinine one. Pro players of any sport have 10s of thousands of hours of training and practice conflating their innate abilities and atheleticism. For all you know, pro skateboarders are the most athletic. Since they perform about 90% self-taught with little coaching or formal instruction.

PS: I made up the 90% number.

   131. Ron J2 Posted: April 11, 2013 at 12:35 PM (#4410804)
#94 No time limit fights are unusual but not precisely unknown. The best known recent example was Royce Gracie/Sakuraba. If you don't think 90 minutes (15 minute rounds to boot) of MMA will test the absolute limits of endurance (two top level grapplers to boot) ...

Come to that, the early UFC was no time limit and many of Gracie's early fights were long. He generally fought larger men and it often took a lot of time to break them down. (One famous win took so much out of him that he was too exhausted for the next bout -- they fought multiple times in a night back then)

Ken Shamrock was able to draw Gracie the first time they fought with a time limit by basically running the clock out -- using his size and strength advantage to prevent Gracie from doing anything but taking absolutely no risks himself.

EDIT: The Sakuraba/Gracie fight ended after 90 minutes because Gracie's corner wouldn't let him continue. He'd fought the last 15 minutes on a badly damaged ("cracked" whatever that means) leg and they finally threw in the towel.
   132. Steve Treder Posted: April 11, 2013 at 01:06 PM (#4410829)
Zenbitz's # 130 should be automatically posted in every thread that ever gets into this particular question.

1) "Race" is a socio-cultural construct, not a genetic one.


This cannot be repeated enough.
   133. flournoy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 02:37 PM (#4410941)
Not to be churlish (he said churlishly), but it occurs to me that Olympic decathlon winners tend to be sort of obscure, at least of late, as far as "the finest athlete in the world" goes.

Who's the most recent one?


He is mentioned by me on the previous page, and no, I didn't look him up beforehand. The fact that Ashton Eaton, or any decathlete, is unknown to a bunch of ignoramuses doesn't make him any less athletic.
   134. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 11, 2013 at 03:54 PM (#4411036)
1) "Race" is a socio-cultural construct, not a genetic one.

This cannot be repeated enough.


Well, it's all of them. Whatever "race" differences there are, as the term "race" is used today, are a factor of genetics, culture, and socio aspects. All of these factors are significant. If you're claiming some of the three are more significant than other(s) of the three - fine.

(OTOH if you're disagreeing with the premise, I'd be interested in hearing why.)
   135. BDC Posted: April 11, 2013 at 04:09 PM (#4411051)
Kudos to everyone here for a very informative thread (and as others have said, special kudos to zenbitz for a very lucid explanation).
   136. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 05:08 PM (#4411111)
Above lie the words of someone who has never pole vaulted, thrown javelin, run hurdles, or made a blind relay exchange. Thanks for your consideration.


I'm pretty sure the poster in post 111 must have never played a sport in his life, if he thinks that handing off a baton is remotely in the same category as shooting a basketball, hitting or fielding a baseball or shooting a puck... Thanks for you input to tell us that fine motor skills of someone throwing a javelin is remotely in the same category as someone hitting a baseball....

As I said before, everyone wants to prop their pet sport up, but seriously track and field is a physical endeavor that doesn't remotely come close in the hand eye coordination of the other sports(which is perfectly acceptable if you don't want to include them as a component of being athletic, I just think that if you are going to list the major sports in these athletic debates, coordination has to be a component, or else they aren't in the conversation)


Of course I would argue that a male gymnast is probably the worlds greatest athlete, but since it is judged by a scoring system, I don't consider it a sport.
   137. zenbitz Posted: April 11, 2013 at 05:36 PM (#4411140)
Whatever "race" differences there are, as the term "race" is used today, are a factor of genetics,


While strictly true - it is irrelevant as it is no more genetic than anything else.
   138. The Good Face Posted: April 11, 2013 at 06:02 PM (#4411153)
Well, it's all of them. Whatever "race" differences there are, as the term "race" is used today, are a factor of genetics, culture, and socio aspects. All of these factors are significant. If you're claiming some of the three are more significant than other(s) of the three - fine.


Yeah, there are a lot of obfuscations and semantic games played around the term "race" when you start to bring genetics into the mix. But whether you want to use the term race, common ancestor groupings, super-extended families, or whatever, it doesn't change the underlying reality; those groups exist and there are material genetic differences between them. This is really non-controversial stuff; the NYT has touched upon it with respect to disease susceptability, drug outcomes, side effects, etc.
   139. BDC Posted: April 11, 2013 at 06:42 PM (#4411176)
track and field is a physical endeavor that doesn't remotely come close in the hand eye coordination of the other sports

If you're narrowing the matter to hand/eye coordination, sure; some events don't involve that at all. The amount of precise technique involved in doing some of those that don't, though, like hurdles or high jump, is extremely demanding. As I'm sure you'd agree, there really aren't any track or field events where you just show up and be fast or strong on some gross level. And by "athleticism," people often mean some precise control of strong or fast bodies, in ways that make technique and training as important as someone's musculature.

Heck, it's very difficult even to propel a modern javelin in the direction you want it to go, let alone excel at the event. You don't just show up and chuck the thing.
   140. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 11, 2013 at 07:27 PM (#4411208)
But whether you want to use the term race, common ancestor groupings, super-extended families, or whatever, it doesn't change the underlying reality; those groups exist and there are material genetic differences between them.


It's not that those "groups" don't exist, but more that those groups/races don't exist in the way they were formerly perceived as existing.

In the 19th and most of the 20th there was the notion that there pure and separate core races, some went so far as to posit that the different races represented differing sub-species.

In fact, humanity is all closely related, there are no separate core races, there are no bright dividing lines between races, we're all on a continuum, sure there are groupings here and there of people who are more closely related to people within that group than without, but not in the clear dividing line sense seen previously
   141. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 11, 2013 at 07:55 PM (#4411225)
In fact, humanity is all closely related, there are no separate core races, there are no bright dividing lines between races, we're all on a continuum, sure there are groupings here and there of people who are more closely related to people within that group than without, but not in the clear dividing line sense seen previously


So Tom Cruise and Jeremy Lin and Samuel L. Jackson and Kim Jong-un can't be said to be from different races?
   142. SoSH U at work Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:00 PM (#4411230)
Of course I would argue that a male gymnast is probably the worlds greatest athlete, but since it is judged by a scoring system, I don't consider it a sport.


Wait a minute. Because the individual you would otherwise deem the most athletic does not participate in an activity that you deem a sport, he is thus disqualified from consideration as a great athlete. I didn't think you could top the foolishness of your tedious "that's not a sport" posts, but you managed to pull it off. Even the Russian judge would be impressed.
   143. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:05 PM (#4411236)
Wait a minute. Because the individual you would otherwise deem the most athletic does not participate in an activity that you deem a sport, he is thus disqualified from consideration as a great athlete. I didn't think you could top the foolishness of your tedious "that's not a sport" posts, but you managed to pull it off. Even the Russian judge would be impressed.


Not at all. I thought the debate here was which sport has the greatest athletes. I mean ballerina's are pretty fantastic athletes, but I doubt anyone is going to be touting them in this thread either. Since I don't consider events that entire definition of quality is solely up to a judges discretion a sport, I eliminated gymnastics from consideration. You want to include it, I would have no problem with it, just didn't think it really fit into the particular discussion going on here.
   144. SoSH U at work Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:15 PM (#4411244)
Since I don't consider events that entire definition of quality is solely up to a judges discretion a sport, I eliminated gymnastics from consideration.


The entire definition of quality isn't solely up to judge's discretion, but I suspect your knowledge of gymnastics is even less than it is of track and field.

I just find it humorous that while acknowledging the incredible athletic ability of men's gymnasts, you're disqualifying them because they don't fit your personalized definition of sport, a definition that is certainly not universally agreed upon (unlike say, ballet).
   145. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:24 PM (#4411254)
The entire definition of quality isn't solely up to judge's discretion, but I suspect your knowledge of gymnastics is even less than it is of track and field.




Gymnastics is graded performance by judges.. yes they have criteria etc... but it still doesn't eliminate the fact that it's extremely subjective "sport". I personally(and have admitted that it's my preference) don't care for anything that is left to a judges entire discretion on what is a good or bad performance. Again, you want to include it that is fine. Then the discussion is over.

No sport has better athletes than male gymnastics. I have no problem agreeing with this argument. And again, pointing out the more you move away from the major sports, the more debate for niche sports clearly over the majors.... If we are talking about almost every sport out there. Then none of the major sports makes the top ten.

gymnastics, track and field(how many events you want to include), fighting sports(whichever amount you want to include), rugby etc.
   146. flournoy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 08:48 PM (#4411271)
Thanks for you input to tell us that fine motor skills of someone throwing a javelin is remotely in the same category as someone hitting a baseball....


Tell me, what is your experience with javelin?

Assuming your answer is "none," which is obvious from your posts, let me know next time you're in South Carolina, and we'll do some quick lessons. I look forward to your display of fine motor skills.
   147. rr Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:01 PM (#4411277)
flournoy--

Didn't you say you are/were/have been a track and field coach? That seems like it would be a pretty tough gig, if you had to know how to teach the various events. Am I remembering that right?
   148. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:17 PM (#4411293)
Tell me, what is your experience with javelin?

Assuming your answer is "none," which is obvious from your posts, let me know next time you're in South Carolina, and we'll do some quick lessons. I look forward to your display of fine motor skills.


You are right it's none... I don't think it matters. (well technically I've thrown one once, but it wasn't "for real".) Again, so ####### what? It's a spear, you run, you throw it...it might take a half dozen tries to get it down to where you can do it at 50% speed, but that is more about getting a hang of it than it would be about actual hand eye coordination. It's not that much inherently different than fielding a baseball and throwing it on the run. And again, I'm not saying it doesn't take ANY fine motor skills, I'm saying it's massively less than hitting a baseball, shooting a basketball or hitting a slap shot with accuracy.

People and their pet sports, you criticize it slightly, and all the sudden it's the most complicated thing in the world. I try to say basketball/hockey/soccer are simple sports and their fans go all ballistic in defense of their pet sport(while ignoring the simple fact that they are simple at the basic level, at least in comparison to football or baseball) I call golf/nascar/bowling not a sport(I'm a bowler) and their fans all try to defend them with some extreme nonsense.... whatever. get over yourselves....Everything is a sport, and everybody who has ever participated in any of those sports are the greatest athletes ever. Everyone happy now?

I never ran track except in gym(which was limited to sprints, hurdles, high/long jump and shot put) but did run cross country in college, and if you want to badmouth that sport, go for it...(it's not like I'm delusional like some people and believe everything I've done must be the toughest/greatest thing in the world-----well except Marine Corps bootcamp :) )
   149. flournoy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:24 PM (#4411298)
flournoy--

Didn't you say you are/were/have been a track and field coach? That seems like it would be a pretty tough gig, if you had to know how to teach the various events. Am I remembering that right?


Indeed! Nice memory. Specifically, I coach javelin. (And cross country in the fall.) As it happens, I just got home an hour or two ago after coaching javelin, wherein a lot of my athletes were displaying some pretty poor fine motor skills. Then again, it's just a spear, and you run and throw it. Maybe cardsfanboy could teach them.
   150. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:31 PM (#4411301)
Indeed! Nice memory. Specifically, I coach javelin. (And cross country in the fall.) As it happens, I just got home an hour or two ago after coaching javelin, wherein a lot of my athletes were displaying some pretty poor fine motor skills. Then again, it's just a spear, and you run and throw it. Maybe cardsfanboy could teach them.




Again, I'm not saying it doesn't take any. I'm saying it takes an afternoon or two to get the hang of it (probably, I can't see it being much more difficult than that for a person with average to above average coordination, and if you are participating in sports more than recreationally, I expect you should have that level of coordination) And of course it takes skill and ability to eventually become good. But in comparison to hitting a curve ball...shooting a puck from 30 feet away and having the ability to hit a 6" target or even shooting a basketball on the run into a hoop...I don't think it's comparable fine motor skills.

   151. haggard Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:47 PM (#4411306)
It matters because IQ has predictive power. There are a lot of ax grinding partisans out there who try to obfuscate this, but they're in the same position as a guy saying, "Sure your idea may work in practice, but it doesn't work according to theory, so let's disregard it."

If you know that different groups have differing IQs due to genetic differences, you can modify your social policy accordingly. That can have tremendous value.


That a difference measures as "genetic" doesn't mean what you think it means. For instance, until 1947 blacks were genetically incapable of playing baseball in the major leagues.
   152. flournoy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 09:52 PM (#4411309)
I'm saying it takes an afternoon or two to get the hang of it


And I'm saying that you are wrong. It takes months. One of my athletes finished sixth in his age group at Nationals last year and has been training with me all year since then. He still has tons of work to do. You grossly underestimate the amount of coordination and body control necessary for the event.

I played baseball for about fifteen years, and I can't name a single baseball activity that equals throwing javelin in terms of body control. Not hitting, not pitching, not turning a tough double play. I'd say those are all roughly on par with shot, discus, and hammer. And none of any of these can touch pole vault in this regard.
   153. cardsfanboy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:03 PM (#4411315)
And I'm saying that you are wrong. It takes months. One of my athletes finished sixth in his age group at Nationals last year and has been training with me all year since then. He still has tons of work to do. You grossly underestimate the amount of coordination and body control necessary for the event.


How is that evidence that it requires months? Guys who get drafted by major league teams have years of work to do... it doesn't mean that they still need to learn to catch and hit, but just means that they aren't at the upper levels yet.

Simple question. Can you teach a reasonably coordinated person to throw the javelin in one afternoon? Not throw it for records or competitive ability to compete, but just run and throw the damn thing without falling on their face?
   154. flournoy Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:49 PM (#4411348)
Yes, the "don't fall on your face" bar can be cleared in one afternoon.
   155. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 11, 2013 at 10:59 PM (#4411352)

For instance, until 1947 blacks were genetically incapable of playing baseball in the major leagues.


You're trying to be cute, but your comment makes no sense, since they most certainly were not.

They were prohibited from playing in the majors. The phrase "genetically incapable" applies to that situation as much as the phrase "pepperoni pizza" does.
   156. Tom T Posted: April 11, 2013 at 11:23 PM (#4411367)
I personally(and have admitted that it's my preference) don't care for anything that is left to a judges entire discretion on what is a good or bad performance.


Ah, so cardsfanboy doesn't like baseball, in which a judge determines if one of the performers has successfully placed a ball into a particular parallelpiped.... Now, it isn't "graded" but (as we saw the other day), the determination of "good" or "bad" performance on every single pitch IS at the discretion of a "judge".

As for gymnastics, my experience (oldest son has competed for 5 years) is that --- at the youth levels (4-6) --- judges have about a +/-0.5 95% confidence interval. It is large enough to affect individual event placements, but GENERALLY averages out over the ensemble of rotations. Only problem is if you have a low-variance event (e.g., vault at these levels) and a judge who tends to show a linear trend in score over time...suddenly that full 1-point range crops up and is not exactly "random" in its bias. This happened at our last meet...two boys nailed the vault, but the boy from the first rotation got a 9.3 and boy from the final rotation got a 10.0 (video of the two doesn't show any score-worthy differences) and the latter boy won All-Around by 0.3 over the first boy. Happens, and you just shrug and move on.

   157. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 11, 2013 at 11:56 PM (#4411380)
I just find it humorous that while acknowledging the incredible athletic ability of men's gymnasts, you're disqualifying them because they don't fit your personalized definition of sport, a definition that is certainly not universally agreed upon (unlike say, ballet).


Though ballet is surely as much a sport as gymnastics. The main "difference" is that gymnasts get numerical reviews, right after a performance, while dancers get verbal (written) reviews, typically a day or two after a performance. Trivial difference, really.
   158. flournoy Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4411385)
I don't have experience with gymnastics in any way, but man, that is some serious stuff. Talk about incredible strength and body control. There is a reason that many top pole vaulters have a gymnastics background.
   159. SoSH U at work Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:08 AM (#4411386)

Though ballet is surely as much a sport as gymnastics. The main "difference" is that gymnasts get numerical reviews, right after a performance, while dancers get verbal (written) reviews, typically a day or two after a performance. Trivial difference, really.


The purpose of a gymnastics meet is the competition. The purpose of ballet isn't. Pretty significant difference, really.

   160. zenbitz Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:15 AM (#4411396)
Sure they are different races. Just because it's a social construct doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

But that doesn't make it a useful construct for discussing the genetics of athletic ability.
   161. Morty Causa Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:49 AM (#4411429)
Fred Astaire is the best athlete ever. And he sang while he danced. Top that. (And don't say Ginger did everything he did, but backwards and in high heels. She didn't.)
   162. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 12, 2013 at 01:23 AM (#4411442)
The purpose of a gymnastics meet is the competition. The purpose of ballet isn't. Pretty significant difference, really.

I don't believe the "purpose" of gymnastics is the competition. I think it's much more the case that the purpose is to give the most beautiful, perfected performance possible. Judges give crude, numeric evaluations of those performances, but that's not the purpose. We score performances and hold some of them on the same days in order to make money. That's not a bad idea, but don't mistake that for the purpose of gymnastics.

Dance, btw, is incredibly competitive. Does the nature of ballet fundamentally change if five troupes put on consecutive performances of Swan Lake and three judges hold up numbered cards at the end of each performance? Would gymnastic performances cease to be competitions if those performances are given on separate days, and the scoring consisted of a verbal review of around 1000 words (accompanied by some number of stars)? It would also be easy to hold dance competitions indistinguishable from the current structure of gymnastic meets, if we wanted to. We even hold gymnastic meets in the form we tend to hold dance performances. We just call them "circuses" or "shows".

The inherent difference between the two exercises or forms or sports or activities is very small. What's innate to each is what's so similar. What differences that now exist are largely contrivances.

   163. Morty Causa Posted: April 12, 2013 at 01:59 AM (#4411453)
No one is trying to keep a gymnast or a dancer from doing his stuff. Gene Kelly or Ginger Rogers didn't try trip up Astaire while he was dancing. No one attempt to intercepted the gymnast en route to his double-flip-twirl or whatever.
   164. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: April 12, 2013 at 02:36 AM (#4411458)
Wow, Cardsfanboy got wtfpwn3d pretty hard here.

Also, glad to see that the classic "OOOOH, RACES!" debate has been struck up.

Also also, the UK still remembers Jessica Ennis!
   165. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 12, 2013 at 07:54 AM (#4411493)
Fred Astaire is the best athlete ever. And he sang while he danced. Top that. (And don't say Ginger did everything he did, but backwards and in high heels. She didn't.)

No one is trying to keep a gymnast or a dancer from doing his stuff. Gene Kelly or Ginger Rogers didn't try trip up Astaire while he was dancing. No one attempt to intercepted the gymnast en route to his double-flip-twirl or whatever.


IMO that distinguishes one type of athletic performance (dancing, gymnastics, javelin throwing, golfing, etc.) from a higher level (basketball, football, boxing, baseball, etc.). Having an opponent actively trying to impede the full exercise of your athleticism brings your performance to a higher level altogether, independent of the amount of grace and coordination involved. Fred Astaire was undoubtedly a great athlete**, but it's no disrespect to him to say that LeBron James and Bryce Harper and Colin Kaepernick and Sidney Crosby are athletes on a distinctly higher level.

**And I'm not saying that just because he was Hollywood's best pool player, though it doesn't hurt his case, either.
   166. haggard Posted: April 12, 2013 at 08:23 AM (#4411505)
You're trying to be cute, but your comment makes no sense, since they most certainly were not.

They were prohibited from playing in the majors. The phrase "genetically incapable" applies to that situation as much as the phrase "pepperoni pizza" does.


You are completely wrong. Prior to 1947, if you had studied the inability of blacks to play major league baseball, you would have found it was entirely genetic,since no matter what environment they had been raised in, they could not play. The effects of racism will always show up as a genetic difference, because skin color is determined by genes.
   167. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: April 12, 2013 at 08:48 AM (#4411516)
Question: you know those Dominicans that are dominating the game today? What race are they?

Why the arbitrary distinction about American Born blacks? I'm pretty sure Jose Reyes and Robinson Cano would not have been allowed to play mlb pre 1946...but we are gonna pretend now that they aren't black?

What a weird, pointless obsession.
   168. BDC Posted: April 12, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4411518)
Having an opponent actively trying to impede the full exercise of your athleticism brings your performance to a higher level altogether, independent of the amount of grace and coordination involved

I'd agree to a point: though golf, pre-eminently the sport where nobody plays defense, is also notoriously impossible to master. Maybe precisely because there's no defense, and so one has a clear field and no excuses; the pressure is lethal, the technique a matter of millimeters, and there's always somebody one shot better.

Perhaps it's best to say that all these sports offer different challenges, and can't be ranked on a straight line of difficulty.

   169. Weekly Journalist_ Posted: April 12, 2013 at 08:52 AM (#4411519)
"And I defy anybody to say whether "blacks" or "whites" worldwide are better at soccer. It can't be done."

There was a rather lengthy discussion in the btf soccer thread years ago about how Mexicans and Latin American countries with lots of Amerindian blood were genetically inferior soccer players.
   170. SoSH U at work Posted: April 12, 2013 at 09:07 AM (#4411537)
The inherent difference between the two exercises or forms or sports or activities is very small. What's innate to each is what's so similar. What differences that now exist are largely contrivances.


Most sports are contrivances, a set of occasionally bizarre rules attached to an activity to allow for competition.

If you want to say there isn't much difference between the performance of the activities, or the inherent athleticism required in each, you're not going to get an argument from me. But these activities have developed in fundamentally different ways. Like it or not, a gymnastics meet is a competition. The ballet is not. Gymnasts consider their activity a sport, ballet dancers don't do likewise (to the best of my knowledge, I've never heard it described as such.*)

Sure, you could just offer gymnastics as a free form event without judges. You could also play baseball without keeping track of runs. But you don't.


Having an opponent actively trying to impede the full exercise of your athleticism brings your performance to a higher level altogether, independent of the amount of grace and coordination involved. Fred Astaire was undoubtedly a great athlete**, but it's no disrespect to him to say that LeBron James and Bryce Harper and Colin Kaepernick and Sidney Crosby are athletes on a distinctly higher level.


I don't know that baseball really fits in this list. There are opponents in direct competition, but they're most definitely not impeding one's athleticism in the way that happens in basketball, football or hockey. Or boxing, but since that activity is judged, those guys are just non-athletic pussies.

* Of course, if ballet dancers want to start calling their activity a sport, I'm not going to get worked up about it like cfb does.
   171. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 12, 2013 at 09:15 AM (#4411543)
Having an opponent actively trying to impede the full exercise of your athleticism brings your performance to a higher level altogether, independent of the amount of grace and coordination involved

I'd agree to a point: though golf, pre-eminently the sport where nobody plays defense, is also notoriously impossible to master. Maybe precisely because there's no defense, and so one has a clear field and no excuses; the pressure is lethal, the technique a matter of millimeters, and there's always somebody one shot better.


And in pool, while you control the table as long as you don't miss, a good opponent will often leave you with an impossible shot. Golf and pool are IMO the most totally mental individual sports there are, at least when played on a high level. No sports look easier to the untrained eye, and yet no sports are harder to truly master.

Perhaps it's best to say that all these sports offer different challenges, and can't be ranked on a straight line of difficulty.

I agree that it's impossible to directly compare one sport to another, unless it's something like baseball vs cricket or U.S. football vs rugby. But I'd still say that a sport where an opponent's physical actions can force you to alter your rhythm and movement is on a higher level than a sport where your motion has complete physical autonomy, because that active opposition adds an extra dimension to your task.
   172. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 12, 2013 at 09:22 AM (#4411547)
Having an opponent actively trying to impede the full exercise of your athleticism brings your performance to a higher level altogether, independent of the amount of grace and coordination involved. Fred Astaire was undoubtedly a great athlete**, but it's no disrespect to him to say that LeBron James and Bryce Harper and Colin Kaepernick and Sidney Crosby are athletes on a distinctly higher level.

I don't know that baseball really fits in this list. There are opponents in direct competition, but they're most definitely not impeding one's athleticism in the way that happens in basketball, football or hockey. Or boxing, but since that activity is judged, those guys are just non-athletic pussies.


I'd say that point about baseball would apply only if (just to take one example) Bryce Harper were being allowed to hit off a tee, instead of being forced to make split-second reactions to a variety of Major League pitches.

Boxing may well be on an entirely different (and higher) level, but that's a whole separate discussion.
   173. SoSH U at work Posted: April 12, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4411553)

I'd say that point about baseball would apply only if (just to take one example) Bryce Harper were being allowed to hit off a tee, instead of being forced to make split-second reactions to a variety of Major League pitches.


All true, but it doesn't change the basic fact. Basketball, football and hockey are sports where the head-to-head competition is physical, with one performer literally impeding the others "exhibition of one's athleticism." Baseball is not played that way, other than plays at the plate (which is another reason they should be outlawed - they go against the way the sport is otherwise contested). The players are responding to one another's execution, but not in a physically combative way. In this way, baseball is more like tennis than football.

It doesn't make either of these a lesser sport, or "on a lower plane" as you described it. But the competition is different than those contact sports in the way one impedes the athleticism of another.

   174. Ron J2 Posted: April 12, 2013 at 09:59 AM (#4411581)
#152 I used to officiate track and field and have seen the efforts of the kids starting out. As you note, it takes a while to figure things out. You have to be really careful around the guys new to various throwing disciplines (though they're far more likely to hurt themselves than you. But young athletes and say the hammer ...)

Though the nastiest injury I saw in person was a blind sprinter (running indoors) whose caller got flustered or something. Guy ran full speed into a post (blind sprinters have to totally trust their callers and the caller in question was new at it and couldn't figure out how to get his guy back on course after he'd veered out of his lane. Didn't occur to him to tell the guy to stop)
   175. Ron J2 Posted: April 12, 2013 at 10:03 AM (#4411588)
#170 I remember a TWIB segment (probably from the early 70s) that took a semi-serious look at the athletic skills required for ballet and how they'd translate to baseball.
   176. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 12, 2013 at 10:06 AM (#4411590)
I'd say that point about baseball would apply only if (just to take one example) Bryce Harper were being allowed to hit off a tee, instead of being forced to make split-second reactions to a variety of Major League pitches.

All true, but it doesn't change the basic fact. Basketball, football and hockey are sports where the head-to-head competition is physical, with one performer literally impeding the others "exhibition of one's athleticism." Baseball is not played that way, other than plays at the plate (which is another reason they should be outlawed - they go against the way the sport is otherwise contested). The players are responding to one another's execution, but not in a physically combative way. In this way, baseball is more like tennis than football.

It doesn't make either of these a lesser sport, or "on a lower plane" as you described it. But the competition is different than those contact sports in the way one impedes the athleticism of another.


But Harper's swing is totally dependent on adjusting to the speed and direction of the ball as thrown by the pitcher. The lack of body contact doesn't change that, it just puts it in a slightly different category without reducing his physical challenge one iota. Certainly the fear factor is just as much there, even if the statistics might indicate that those fears are somewhat overblown.

I do agree that tennis also belongs in that category, although its skill set leans more on stamina and general athleticism than baseball, and relatively less on the incredibly high level of hand-eye coordination that goes into hitting a Major League pitch.
   177. Morty Causa Posted: April 12, 2013 at 10:12 AM (#4411598)
There's the fear factor, too, although it doesn't seem to be discussed much in detail. Like was mentioned in the thread about HBP, the batter is peculiarly vulnerable, and he will never be worth a damn until he conquers that fear, a fear the pitcher plays on. To enjoy some success, that's the first thing he has to do.
   178. The Good Face Posted: April 12, 2013 at 10:15 AM (#4411602)
Sure they are different races. Just because it's a social construct doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

But that doesn't make it a useful construct for discussing the genetics of athletic ability.


More detailed information is essential when making such distinctions. If you say that black guys are the best sprinters, well sure, virtually all the world class sprinters over the past 30 years have been black men, but it's an incomplete statement. Men with West African ancestry dominate sprinting; men from Kenya or Ethiopia, not so much. Even though they'd all generally be considered "black guys," it seems pretty clear there's more to being a great sprinter than having dark skin.
   179. SoSH U at work Posted: April 12, 2013 at 10:18 AM (#4411610)
But Harper's swing is totally dependent on adjusting to the speed and direction of the ball as thrown by the pitcher.


In baseball, there is no impeding the full exercise of athleticism, because there is no execution without the opposition's contribution. The pitcher throws, with no interference. The batter must react to that with no interference from the opposition - in fact, said interference is illegal. The fielder makes the play, with no interference from the opposition, again with no interference from the offense, which is itself illegal*. It's a series of discrete responses, like tennis. Football and hockey and basketball, in contrast, feature opponents that are actively and consistently trying to impede one's efforts through physicality.

It doesn't make baseball less challenging. It doesn't make it less manly. But in terms of one athlete "impeding" another, they really aren't comparable.

* Plays at the plate and takeout slides at second being the only exceptions, and the latter has been curtailed significantly to reduce the kind of contact that define those other sports.
   180. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 12, 2013 at 11:00 AM (#4411675)
But Harper's swing is totally dependent on adjusting to the speed and direction of the ball as thrown by the pitcher.

In baseball, there is no impeding the full exercise of athleticism, because there is no execution without the opposition's contribution. The pitcher throws, with no interference. The batter must react to that with no interference from the opposition - in fact, said interference is illegal. The fielder makes the play, with no interference from the opposition, again with no interference from the offense, which is itself illegal*. It's a series of discrete responses, like tennis. Football and hockey and basketball, in contrast, feature opponents that are actively and consistently trying to impede one's efforts through physicality.

It doesn't make baseball less challenging. It doesn't make it less manly. But in terms of one athlete "impeding" another, they really aren't comparable.


I agree that there is a distinction. Maybe I should just try to place these various "athletic" sports along a spectrum of distinctions, without getting into discussions about which of these endeavors require more grace, "skill", "athleticism", "manliness", etc.

No opponent, but with critics always in the audience, critics whose unquantified but subjectively rigorous judgment may make or break your career: Ballet and other types of non-competitive dancing.

Independent opponents, with judges awarding subjective numerical points for performance: Gymnastics, figure skating, competitive dancing, etc.

Non-ball sports with actions that are completely independent of your opponent: Field events like high jumping, pole vaulting, javelin throwing, etc.

Non-ball sports with simultaneous but independent opposition: Foot races

Ball sports involving a stationary ball, where your actions are independent of your opponent's: Golf**

Ball sports involving a stationary ball, but where your actions are often dependent on your opponent's previous action: Pool

Ball sports involving actions that are completely interactive with your opponent's actions, but with limited or no physical contact: Baseball, tennis

Ball sports involving actions that are completely interactive with your opponent's actions, and with much physical contact, but where physical contact is not the defining characteristic of the sport: Basketball, hockey, soccer***

Ball sports involving actions that are completely interactive with your opponent's actions, and with much physical contact, and where physical contact is the defining characteristic of the sport: Football, rugby

Non-ball sports involving actions that are completely interactive with your opponent's actions, and where physical contact is the exclusive characteristic of the sport: Boxing, wrestling, MMA, etc.

**One exception to this would be in the final holes of a tournament, where a golfer's strategy may sometimes be determined by knowing his opponents' scores.

**This isn't to say that these three sports have equal levels of physical contact, only that it would be theoretically possible to play a very credible version of them with little or no direct physical contact at all. You couldn't say that about American football, and certainly not about boxing.
   181. flournoy Posted: April 12, 2013 at 11:07 AM (#4411681)
You have to be really careful around the guys new to various throwing disciplines (though they're far more likely to hurt themselves than you. But young athletes and say the hammer ...)


I wouldn't let anyone throw hammer without having developed a solid shot and/or discus spin technique. A thrower who doesn't know what he's doing is almost certain to hurt himself. (With proper safety precautions, there should be little danger to anyone else in any of the throws, but that's a different topic.)
   182. SoSH U at work Posted: April 12, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4411683)
I agree that there is a distinction. Maybe I should just try to place these various "athletic" sports along a spectrum of distinctions, without getting into discussions about which of these endeavors require more grace, "skill", "athleticism", "manliness", etc.


A worthwhile goal.

That's a pretty good summation. Of course, what's interesting is how, even with such a comprehensive list, there is overlap.

Boxing is perhaps the purest of competitions. I knock you out, I win. You knock me out, you win.

However, boxing also has the performance-judging method found in those activities that earn cfb's wrath - figure skating and gymnastics.
   183. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 12, 2013 at 11:20 AM (#4411699)
That's a pretty good summation. Of course, what's interesting is how, even with such a comprehensive list, there is overlap.

Boxing is perhaps the purest of competitions. I knock you out, I win. You knock me out, you win.

However, boxing also has the performance-judging method found in those activities that earn cfb's wrath - figure skating and gymnastics.


Yeah, I should have thought of adding that qualifier, especially since some of history's biggest fights have been decided on the basis of a Don Denkinger-level call.
   184. BDC Posted: April 12, 2013 at 11:48 AM (#4411746)
There was a rather lengthy discussion in the btf soccer thread years ago about how Mexicans and Latin American countries with lots of Amerindian blood were genetically inferior soccer players

I almost don't want to know what transpired. I'd hope that "inferior to whom?" and "Huh?" were among the questions asked :)
   185. cardsfanboy Posted: April 12, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4411748)
However, boxing also has the performance-judging method found in those activities that earn cfb's wrath - figure skating and gymnastics.


At it's core it doesn't though. When I'm talking about my(very subjective) definition of sports, I'm talking about the sport at it's core. Fighting sports are fairly straight forward. Two(usually) contestant agree to a set of rules/style and maybe a time limit, they fight, winner is the first to submit or be knocked down for a time period. A referee helps, judges may not be necessary. You can play baseball just fine without umpires. As kids we did it all the time. Same with soccer, basketball, football, track and field etc... Those games do not require a judge or a referee at their core. You cannot realistically have a gymnastic competition without a judge(or figure skating or high diving etc). You can do gymnastics without a judge, but that is a little bit different.

And as I stated, if we are including male gymnastics, then they(in my opinion) clearly would win this as the most athletic. Sticking to the major sports, I think it probably goes hockey with soccer and basketball tied for second.
   186. BDC Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:02 PM (#4411764)
You can do gymnastics without a judge

Oh, can you ever.
   187. Ray (RDP) Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:05 PM (#4411770)
Though the nastiest injury I saw in person was a blind sprinter (running indoors) whose caller got flustered or something. Guy ran full speed into a post (blind sprinters have to totally trust their callers and the caller in question was new at it and couldn't figure out how to get his guy back on course after he'd veered out of his lane. Didn't occur to him to tell the guy to stop)


I had no idea that there are blind sprinters.

Blind sprinters. Why, why, why.

What could go wrong?
   188. Ron J2 Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:06 PM (#4411773)
#183 You can have no decision fights. Indeed it was pretty common at one point (it was even illegal to have judge's decisions in some places)

That Gracie/Sakuraba fight I mentioned was fought with no time limits and no judges. It's not a different sport, though a smart athlete will probably make some different tactical choices. Sakuraba won by thinking long term. Stand up was never an important part of his game but he concentrated on punishing Gracie's plant leg. In the 5th round Gracie had to switch stances -- his plant leg had been damaged to the point he simply couldn't attack (hell he couldn't really stand)
   189. Ron J2 Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:17 PM (#4411787)
Ray, It's not the blind sprinters that worry me. It "should" be pretty safe.

It's the blind javelin throwers.

Incidentally that's not actually the worst injury I've seen while officiating, just the worst track and field injury.

The worst injury came at touch football. A guy (looking back for the ball) ran full speed into a goal post. Ended up having to have his spleen removed.
   190. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4411793)
It's not the blind sprinters that worry me. It "should" be pretty safe.

It's the blind javelin throwers.


Not to mention the blind spear catchers.

----------------------------

The worst injury came at touch football. A guy (looking back for the ball) ran full speed into a goal post. Ended up having to have his spleen removed.

In hindsight it's absolutely amazing that it took the NFL 54 years to move the goal posts from the goal line to the back of the end zone.
   191. BDC Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM (#4411813)
I saw a blind soccer international in Berlin a couple of years ago: Turkey v. Germany. It sounds absurd, but it's very intriguing to watch. The keepers were partially-sighted, and the officials are sighted; the ball makes a sound, and if it bounces out of players' control the officials direct it back towards them. There are low walls around the pitch instead of touchlines. As far as athleticism goes, it's a challenge, for sure.
   192. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 12, 2013 at 12:56 PM (#4411844)
Yeah, I should have thought of adding that qualifier, especially since some of history's biggest fights have been decided on the basis of a Don Denkinger-level call.


Eh, I'm trying to think about the worst decisions I've seen in major fights and I'm not coming up with too many really terrible Denkinger-level flubs. The Holyfield vs Lennox Lewis fight was a terrible decision, probably the worst I can think of offhand. The Sugar Ray Leonard vs Thomas Hearns rematch was pretty bad. The first fight between Joe Louis and Jersey Joe Wacott was a robbery for Louis. I can think of plenty of fights where the wrong guy probably got the decision but they were generally closely contested bouts - Leonard vs Hagler, the third Norton vs Ali fight - and a few fights I think we're stopped way too soon, but the really big historic fights are largely safe from the really egregious ref/judge bungles, much like baseball, at least off the top of my head.
   193. SoSH U at work Posted: April 12, 2013 at 01:01 PM (#4411856)

Eh, I'm trying to think about the worst decisions I've seen in major fights and I'm not coming up with too many really terrible Denkinger-level flubs.


Don't know how much you consider the Olympics to be a major event, but isn't the ROy Jones decision in the '88 games gold medal bout one of the most egregious examples?
   194. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 12, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4411893)
Ooh, you're right SoSH, I wasn't thinking amateur bouts at all. I watched that live (well, on th NBC tape delay with the rest of the country) everyone was horrified.
   195. Joey B. Posted: April 12, 2013 at 01:45 PM (#4411901)
Yep. That fight was what caused me to stop paying attention to the Olympics permanently.
   196. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: April 12, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4411914)
Eh, I'm trying to think about the worst decisions I've seen in major fights and I'm not coming up with too many really terrible Denkinger-level flubs.


The first Hagler-Antuofermo fight (draw) was a wretched decision.
   197. Ron J2 Posted: April 12, 2013 at 01:51 PM (#4411916)
#182 There's no shortage of "worst boxing decision" articles. Marvin Hagler/ Vito Antuofermo comes to mind (and interestingly the judge who scored the fight for Antuofermo was also one of the judges in the most recent major controversy, Pacquiao/Bradley)
   198. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 12, 2013 at 02:00 PM (#4411931)
Eh, I don't think Hagler vs Antuofermo was that awful. Hagler was the challenger, won the early rounds, and thought he could win a title by coasting to a finish. I haven't watched that fight in ages but I don't recall, offhand, that it was any more egregious than a dozen other fights. The two Holmes vs Michael Spinks bouts were worse, IMO.

Edit - the AP reporter on-site score it 143-142 Amtuofermo
   199. Jack Carter, calling Beleaguered Castle Posted: April 12, 2013 at 02:39 PM (#4412009)
@170: fair enough, SOSH. This is an argument I only very rarely have, so it's been enlightening. I agree with your assessment of how we've decided to treat the two activities,** and don't have anywhere productive to go with it.

And I'm not saying that just because he was Hollywood's best pool player, though it doesn't hurt his case, either.


Were other stars notoriously good? The Marx Brothers were enthusiastic bridge players but only of modest talent; doubt any of them had the patience for pool. W. C. Fields, maybe? Anyone who could shoot with a bent cue probably had to have some actual talent.


**Dancing with the Stars and it's competitive aspect and audience of millions notwithstanding--everything that can be turned into sport will be turned into sport, just as the increasing number of degrees at colleges require everything to be turned into subjects of academic 'inquiry'.
   200. BDC Posted: April 12, 2013 at 02:48 PM (#4412016)
Were other stars notoriously good?

Jackie Gleason, evidently. He played his own pool for The Hustler.
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