October 9, 2005

Anti-white discrimination in the NFL?

J.B. Cash has been arguing for years on his Caste Football website that pro and college football teams discriminate against white players. Most of the racial patterns in football are clearly due to obvious physical and cognitive differences between the races, but are they all?

Cash has assembled a fair amount of anecdotal evidence for his discrimination hypothesis, but I'd like to see a thorough statistical study because in competitive markets like the NFL, irrational discrimination is punished by losing. Of course, the NFL is a cartel that shares the wealth and spreads the good seasons around using the draft and manipulating the schedule to prevent dynasties and to build up bad teams, so the pressure of the marketplace on NFL teams not to discriminate isn't as strong as in say, the British Premiere soccer league where teams with bad records get "relegated" down to the minor leagues.

A reader writes:

I correlated 2005 percent white by NFL team with 2004 percent regular season wins and got .11.

That's very low, suggesting little discrimination. Of course, that's an oranges to tangerines comparison of 2005 rosters to 2004 wins, and there is much variation from season to season in both wins and roster makeup.

If anybody out there wants to go through the old Caste Football write-ups of the racial make-up of the teams for the last several seasons, this social scientist says he would be happy to do a more definitive correlation analysis.

He also writes:

Out of curiosity, I looked to see if there was a correlation between whether the coach was white in 2004 and percent white in 2005. It turned out to be .15. Also, there was no association between race of coach and wins in 2004.

Another interesting analysis would be to look at assistant coaches by race. For example, the best team in recent years, the New England Patriots, has a white head coach and 12 of the 14 assistant coaches are white.

One of the more sophisticated aspects of Cash's critique of the football establishment is embodied in his use of the term "caste." He contends that, as among the Hindus, different jobs are reserved for people of different ancestries. Some positions are open to whites -- offensive lineman, kicker, punter, tight end, quarterback (although to a diminishing extent) -- while some positions are somewhat open to both races -- linebacker, safety, defensive tackle, blocking back -- while others are just about off-limits -- tailback, cornerback, wide receiver.

So, teams can vary racially on two dimensions -- both percentage of whites overall and percentage of whites at typically black positions. For example, the class act of the NFL, the Patriots, have had an above-average percentage of whites on their team during their dynasty, but their white players have been mostly found at stereotypically white positions, with the partial exception of linebacker, where they've had an above average percentage of white linebackers. Overall, though, the Patriots have been just whiter at mostly white positions than other teams, rather than say, starting white tailbacks and cornerbacks.

So, when collecting data for analysis, it would be good to collect it at the position-level within each team.

One thing that strikes all observers of India is the incredible stability of the caste system. I wonder whether football coaches use this caste-like division of labor among the races to cut down on racial conflict within the team. In big time football, blacks mostly compete with blacks for starting jobs and whites with whites. This reduces the likelihood of disappointed players stirring up racial divisiveness within the team and in the media, where lots of white sportswriters are quick to denounce anything they perceive as discrimination against blacks (while remaining wholly silent on the questions Cash brings up).

For example, if a coach decided he had to bench an insubordinate black superstar receiver like Randy Moss or Terrell Owens, this traumatic event would probably go more smoothly if he replaced the loudmouth black with another black.

Of course, you are probably better off as a coach avoiding signing in the first place players who would play the race card. New England seems like a team that goes for solid citizens.

A related phenomenon that hasn't been covered much in the press is the decline of black high school football teams.

Back in my day, the best high school football team in the San Fernando Valley was San Fernando H.S., from the black enclave in the north valley. It featured a famous 4-man ultrafast offensive and defensive backfield in which Charles White, future Heisman trophy winner and NFL rushing leader, was merely first among equals.

Today, in Southern California, in contrast, the dominant football powers are typically exurban white schools like Hart and Mission Viejo (traditionally, more famous for its swim teams, but now ranked #2 in the country by USA Today), along with mostly white Catholic schools. (Typically, these schools have a few black stars at positions like running back.) Only the huge Long Beach Poly school (#15 until being upset Friday) maintains the great black tradition in SoCal.

There are still individual black superstars in SoCal high school football, but generally the mostly black teams aren't very good.

There's a certain amount of evidence that blacks in general aren't as good at the kind of cooperative ventures that they used to be good at (e.g., the U.S. Olympic basketball team's defeat in 2004), suggesting that black culture is either falling apart or, more optimistically, hasn't recovered yet from the crack/gangsta rap years. The media's glorification of black superstars seems to have hurt black youths' willingness to sacrifice for the team.

A reader writes:

Over the years, I've heard many comments from white people that presume a superiority in sports in black athletes. Our high school football coach complained that we would win more games if we had low income housing so we would have faster kids at the time we were losing to other all white high school teams. When my husband recommended a fast kid, who played safety and wide receiver to an Ohio State recruiter, the recruiter asked if the kid was "black fast or white fast." Strange question when a stats question should have been asked.

The percentage of black kids who actually play sports has declined over the years, at least by my observation. It is almost counter culture now for black kids to play high school sports. Some of it may be that the kids now have to have a certain grade point average to play and getting good grades is acting white and so something to be avoided, but I don't know the reason. In our area, kids can choose the school they want to attend and we usually have one or two public high school in the city with a good team and the other schools can barely support a team.

The school bands have also changed. In past years, the black high school bands would have lots of horns and fancy marching as compared to the straight lines and variety of instruments in the white schools. Now, the black schools rarely have a band and the ones that do have very few kids as compared to the large number of kids in white high school marching bands.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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