June 30, 2012

Black Italian soccer star Mario Balotelli: Nature v. nurture


Italy won the World Cup in 2006 with an all white team by playing their traditional miserly Mediterranean peasant style (imagine the mean, cunning farmers in Jean de Florette who outsmart city-slicker Gerard Depardieu -- and, yes, I know that's a French movie). They beat France's much more diverse team in the Final. The media had been in a frenzy promoting the French team as the triumph of diversity, but then France's Berber superstar Zinedine Zidane got suckered into going all Bob Hoskins on an Italian player and was kicked out and Italy won the draw on penalty kicks.

But, the times they are a changing. A reader writes:
You've got to get on top of this.  Mario Balotelli (2 goals to upset Germany in the semifinals of the Euro tournament) has biological parents from Ghana, but was born in Italy and raised from an early age by a Jewish family in a wealthy Italian village.  Sandra Scarr could only dream of case studies like this.  Read the Wikipedia article on him and guess his IQ.

From Wikipedia:
He joined Manchester City in August 2010, where his performances and off-field activities have continued to be enigmatic and unpredictable.

To summarize a long list of tabloid tales, despite his privileged upbringing, Balotelli's not strong on what psychologists call "executive function." A legal name change to something like "Metta World Peace" would seem a distinct possibility.

50 comments:

James_G said...

Why always me?

Anonymous said...

The Personality and Reputation section of his Wikipedia article gave me the same sort of feeling as the recent Slate review of R. Kelly's autobiography.

Anonymous said...

Balotelli is probably a fun guy for the lower-rung paparazzi to trail.

He needs to hire a cornerman a la Angelo Dundee.

Problem is such a cornerman might very well find himself with a screwdriver through his temples and a rolling pin up his rear after a momentary lapse in diligence.

cipher

Anonymous said...

"A legal name change to something like "Metta World Peace" would seem a distinct possibility."

I love your sense of humor, Steve.

Don't forget World. B. Free. However, IIRC, Lloyd was colorful but not a troublemaker...or am I wrong...I don't pay great attention to the NBA.

Fan said...

Video: "Mario Balotelli can't dress himself." He struggles to put on a "training bib" during a match.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYU-SeVofHs

Anonymous said...

...raised from an early age by a Jewish family in a wealthy Italian village...

In 10 or 15 years, I'd love to be a fly on the wall, listening to Angelina Jolie or Sandra Bullock or Charlize Theron talking about the trials and tribulations of seeing a black child through puberty.

I don't know whether Komment Kontrol will let me say this, but that kid, which Sandra Bullock adopted, scares the piss out of me - he looks like he could very well grow up to murder someone within the next decade or so.

Anonymous said...

Oh no. I am sure that any day now he will become the next Leonardo daVinci.

Anonymous said...


I don't know whether Komment Kontrol will let me say this, but that kid, which Sandra Bullock adopted, scares the piss out of me - he looks like he could very well grow up to murder someone within the next decade or so.


She might not live to regret the decision to adopt.

Anonymous said...

She might not live to regret the decision to adopt.

Yeah, I have wondered about that very possiblity.

Anonymous said...

Italy is finally getting some diversity in the Football team... I hope that don't turn out like France.

Forbes said...

An Italian friend, visiting the states for my family's 4th of July family reunion, stated, while we were watching Thursday's match, about Balotelli, "He's very stupid." And late in the match when Balotelli was taken out in a substitution, "He doesn't run, might as well put in someone who does." Stupid and lazy, but apparently skillful...

JerseyGuy said...

Forbes,
Agreed about Balotelli. He would fit right in on an NFL team, where he could specialize in a few skills. He has a combination of athleticism and sheer size. However, he doesn't have much soccer intelligence and I think that defenders will learn how to mark him over the next two years. Intelligence on the field is much more important than it used to be. Didier drogba is a much better striker (size, athleticism and intelligence).

Gianni said...

Here in Italy, "Balotelli" is the poster child of the MSM. His talent is overhyped by the pundits. In Euro2012 his poor start was escused anyway and he stayed in the starting squad until he scored his first gol only after 3 matches and only after an enormous series of mistakes ( a sweet treatment not reserved to anyone).
Balotelli is a medium the MSM use to impose diversity to a country not so 'ready' for that. And this was evident after the semifinal against the Germany .

Anonymous said...

A correction.

The final result of the 2006 World Cup Final was 1-1, not 0-0.

Drawbacks said...

Mr. Balotelli was stopped by Manchester police after some minor traffic infraction. He was searched, and asked why he had 2,000 pounds in cash in his pocket. He replied, "Because I am rich."
He's an entertaining fellow,on and off.
Italy might be better with di Natale as striker, but he keeps straying offside, because he's no longer fast enough to beat defenders to the ball licitly.

anony-mouse said...

Maybe low IQ (and at least bilingual?)

Maybe high level autism

Maybe 'eccentric'

Londoner said...

I have to disagree that Italy's traditional football style finds its roots in the peasant hovels and olive groves - rather, it's a product of the sophisticated north.

Historically, Italian football has had little of the trickery and aesthetically pleasing skill of other Mediterranean countries - it has been characterised by organisation, discipline and defensive impassibility. Italian football's power bases have always been in the far north - Milan, Bologna, Genoa and Turin. When the southern hicks of Napoli won Lo Scudetto in the 1980s (inspired by the great Maradona) it was a shocking inversion of the established order. Unlike the south, northern Italy is powerful, advanced and mainstream European, and that's what is reflected in the football team, then and now.

Of the current squad of 23, only four are southerners. This is not including Balotelli (who was born in Sicily as it happens), Motta, who is a Brazilian and Sirigu, who is a Sardinian. Ironically, a couple of the southerners could pass for Germans, and a couple of the northerners (Pirlo and Buffon) have almost stereotypical dark southern looks.

Anonymous said...

So Italy becomes just another 'European' football team.

Gilbert P.

Anonymous said...

That's not a "bib". That's a pinny.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinafore

***In modern times, the term "pinny" or "pinnie" has taken another meaning in sports wear, namely a double-sided short apron, often made of mesh, used to differentiate teams. This usage is chiefly British, with some usage in Canada and the United States. This type of pinny is also known as a scrimmage vest.[citation needed]***

Anonymous said...

Do you think any American sports announcers would still have their jobs had they spoken about his inability to put on a bib as those announcers did?

Dave in Calif. said...

I can't say I'm really still interested with this tourney, or with the clowns professing their trollish concern for Sandra Bullock's well-being, but that old column from Dr. K was magnificent ("Too much stereotyped planning destroys the creativity indispensable for effective soccer")

Steve Sailer said...

I reread a volume of Kissinger's memoirs recently, and I was struck by how his basic theme was that the secret to wise foreign policy is to learn the national stereotypes. Leaders come and go, but national character changes much more slowly, so study your stereotypes!

Anonymous said...

...the clowns professing their trollish concern for Sandra Bullock's well-being...

???

If this were, say, 1985, then would we be clowns were we to profess concern for Nicole Brown Simpson's well-being?

Or did Nicole just deserve it?

Anonymous said...

I worked with a white woman who was not very bright who married, had a son with, and then divorced a black man. She couldn't control her half-black son when he hit puberty and sent him away to live with his paternal grandmother.

Anonymous said...

National stereotypes are well and good, but you just don't know enough about soccer based on watching that one World Cup finsl to make posts like this.

Anonymous said...

"I reread a volume of Kissinger's memoirs recently, and I was struck by how his basic theme was that the secret to wise foreign policy is to learn the national stereotypes. Leaders come and go, but national character changes much more slowly, so study your stereotypes!"

Hmm, wonder if a person of Hilary's political views has accepted such stereotypes?

Yep, would have have--hit with reality upside her head, but she'd never let on that stereotypes back home are usually pretty darned accurate. No sir, they're just darned evil.

Silver said...

Italy is finally getting some diversity in the Football team... I hope that don't turn out like France.

Well yeah, we can all dream. In reality, it's Italy's Jackie Robinson moment.

I had to leave before the 2nd half against Germany and followed the game (well, the score) on an Italian radio station. My Italian is piss-poor but I could easily make out the euphoric announcers screaming "tu sei uno di noi, tu sei uno di noi!" (you're one of us, you're one of us) after the match ended, referring to Balotelli.

Kylie said...

"I can't say I'm really still interested...with[sic] the clowns professing their trollish concern for Sandra Bullock's well-being..."

No one was professing concern, trollish or otherwise, for Bullock's well-being. They were merely speculating as to how her adoption of what looks like a thug in training might impact her future well-being.

That's the only kid I know of whose baby pics look like mug shots.

Anonymous said...

Why is Italy allowing Ghanian Africans to move to their country? What is to be gained from such an ill-considered policy? I also wonder what exactly is the deal with rich white woman adopting black African kids? Are they trying to make a statement of some kind?

Silver said...

I also wonder what exactly is the deal with rich white woman adopting black African kids? Are they trying to make a statement of some kind?

Are you kidding? Jetting off to Africa for a black trophy adoptee is the last word in Cool White Person.

Anonymous said...

"a couple of the northerners (Pirlo and Buffon) have almost stereotypical dark southern looks."

Pirlo is a known gypsy.

Pirlo, Balotelli and the captain Buffon are the 3 biggest stars in the Italian team. A gypsy, an african and a swarthy northern italian.

Germany had two muslims and a mulatto in their starting lineup. The single goal, a penalty, scored by Germany was by Ozil, a turk, and the powerful strike that came closest to scoring was by the other muslim, Khedira.

So non-europeans dominated in that match between Germany and Italy.

Anonymous said...

"Stupid and lazy, but apparently skillful"

He's not that skillful. He isn't even close to a Messi or Xavi or Wilshere.

All he does is whack the ball hard and hopes it goes in.

Did you see him against Spain and England? It wasn't pretty.
He is totally over-hyped and overrated because he is black.

Anonymous said...

"He's not that skillful.....He is totally over-hyped and overrated because he is black."

You don't score two superb goals against a team like Germany if you are not supremely skillful. His other goal, against Ireland, was also a stunner. He is tied for the most goals scored in the Euro Cup.

Anonymous said...

"I don't know whether Komment Kontrol will let me say this, but that kid, which Sandra Bullock adopted, scares the piss out of me - he looks like he could very well grow up to murder someone within the next decade or so."

That was hilarious. I'm assuming you read the Daily Mail.

Anonymous said...

Sandra Bullock why babe, why?

Can she not have any of her own? What a waste of brains and beauty.

Anonymous said...

"That was hilarious. I'm assuming you read the Daily Mail."

No, he merely had to look at pics. Ive looked too and that kid is mean looking.

ionut said...

@ anon (6/30/12 9:25 PM )

here are some pictures of pirlo and buffon

Pirlo
Buffon

some people's refusal to properly classify others as Europeans borders on mental illness.

Kylie said...

"'I don't know whether Komment Kontrol will let me say this, but that kid, which Sandra Bullock adopted, scares the piss out of me - he looks like he could very well grow up to murder someone within the next decade or so.'

That was hilarious. I'm assuming you read the Daily Mail."


That was hilariously lame. Presumably you think the suggestion that someone reads the Daily Mail is an accusation against which he will feel compelled to defend himself.

You couldn't be more wrong. Once it became known that the Daily Mail printed stories about black on white crime in the US that the US MSM wouldn't touch unless they had to, people who hadn't bothered with the tabloid starting reading it online. I did, for which I feel no need to explain or apologize.

In this case, though, there's been no need to read the Daily Mail since pics of the thuggish tot and his doting, terminally clueless adoptive mother have been splashed all over the internet.

Now you can go back to The Grauniad, having done your best to patronize the masses. Of course your best isn't very good but that's in The Grauniad tradition, too, isn't it?

john cronin said...

Interesting about the comments above re North and south Italy. I was born and raised in London, where there has been a fair sized Italian community going back to Victorian times (google in Sir Charles Forte) and went to a Catholic school where a lot of the lads, even if they had cockney accents were third or fourth generation Italians: they all looked fairly stereotypical, like the folks in "The Untouchables" (I mean the Sean Connery film, not the 50s TV series) But then their ancestors all came from the south (Sicily, Calabria, Naples) The first time I actually visited Italy, I went to Verona, Venice, Turin: everyone looked like the folks from ABBA. There was a very clear difference once you went south of Rome

Anonymous said...

"You don't score two superb goals against a team like Germany if you are not supremely skillful. His other goal, against Ireland, was also a stunner. He is tied for the most goals scored in the Euro Cup."

Yes,you can. A weak Irish team was playing with 10 men.

His first goal vs Germany was an easy header that was set up by a great cross. His 2nd goal was poor defending by Germany

Truth said...

"Video: "Mario Balotelli can't dress himself." He struggles to put on a "training bib" during a match."

", "He's very stupid."

"he doesn't have much soccer intelligence"

"Maybe low IQ (and at least bilingual?)

"He is totally over-hyped and overrated because he is black."

Yes, he's "stupid", "low-IQ", "overhyped", "overrated", and can't dress...

...yet somehow, he identified his best skill early, and found a way to market it for millions...

Like Bill Gates and Donald Trump...

...and unlike any of you.

Silver said...

Pirlo is a known gypsy.

Looks it too, doesn't he. I've never seen an Italian who looks like that.

some people's refusal to properly classify others as Europeans borders on mental illness.

True, but it's also quite amusing. Once this process of "elimination" begins it quickly reaches a point where the only "real" members of whatever ethnicity are the very whitest members of it. So for example, the only "real" Spaniards might be, say, Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso. That's also why Pirlo is eliminated, because he's not a "pure" Italian, while another "impure" Italian like Montolivo is not, despite being half German.

Gotta be a better way, you reckon.

JerseyGuy said...

Andrea Pirlo is certainly not a "gypsy". His father founded a metal trading company. He actually grew up in a wealthy household, which is rare for European soccer players.

Nanonymous said...

Re: Andrea Pirlo. Whether he is gypsy or not, he is a highly intelligent player. In the way he reads the game and figures the best play at any given moment, there are literally only a few footballers in the world who can compete with him. Mario Balotelli is a very dumb player, however. All he can do is to wait for the ball presented to him by others and then finish. Never even a hint of creativity.

irishman said...

I have a niece(she's 5) who has taken to calling Balotelli Black and Yellow. It's very cute.

I love the football but this tournament will be remembered as the beginning of the end of football. Spain won playing Eunuch football! It may have looked nice when they do it but god... when say Belgium start it will be like watching paint dry.

Football used to be 2-3-5. Then it was 4-2-4, then 4-4-2 then 4-5-1 and now it's 4-6-0. Why don't they just go all the way to 10-0 and be done with it.

Anonymous said...

So Italy now has a 'star' football player. That's not too surprising. Not a star rocket scientist or industrialist or software genius, but a guy who kicks a ball around a field (when he can figure out how to put on his jersey). Athletics and entertainment. That's all blacks seem to excel at.

Anonymous said...

So much chit chat over a game no one will remember. Semi-finals are not the point.
Getting pounded 4-0 in the finals...now that's a game people will remember. Tonight Rome was sacked. Then pantsed.

Peter A said...

Spain has one of the most ethnically homogenous teams in Europe. Spain's recent dominance (and the embarassing failures of England and France) are certainly no triumph for "multiculturalism". The question is why white, ethnically pure Poland is so awful.

Anonymous said...

"Spain has one of the most ethnically homogenous teams in Europe"

Spain has a half-japanese, Silva, and a gypsy, Navas, in its team. One of the coaching staff is black. That's what we know. Who else is mixed is unknown.

The gypsy Jesus Navas scored the only goal in the match against all-european Croatia and put Spain into the knock out round. David Silva, whose mother is japanese, scored the first goal against Italy that turned the game in Spain's favor.

None of the all-euro teams, Ukraine, Poland, Croatia etc even made it into the quarterfinals. Except Greece which got thrashed by multi-culti Germany...

Jim Oliver said...

I keep telling people that most any child in the USA that shows well above average athletic talent is given more opportunity than even rich non athletic children. Tutors, free rides to good catholic schools and latter universities etc.