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Old 08-04-05, 12:26 PM   #1
chigrl71
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White Man Sport?

While watching the TDF this year, I began wondering why professional cycling is so "white" of a sport. I don't remember seeing any other racial groups represented and I'm really curious as to why. Does anyone have any insight into this?

P.S. This thread is not intended to offend anyone. Please be sensitive with any comments that may be made here.
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Old 08-04-05, 12:29 PM   #2
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Here's some interesting history of blacks in cycling.


Marshall Walter ("Major") Taylor (November 26, 1878 - June 21, 1932) was an American cyclist who won the world 1-mile track cycling championship in 1899, 1900, and 1901.

Taylor was the second black world champion in any sport, after boxer George Dixon. The Major Taylor Velodrome in Indianapolis, Indiana is named in his honor. His memory is honored not only for his athletic feats, but for the nobility of character in the process of achieving them which make him a true role model. Taylor was a devout Christian who would not race on Sundays for much of his career, making his success all the more remarkable.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Taylor
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Old 08-04-05, 12:36 PM   #3
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What, you never heard of Major Taylor? :-)

My theory is that it's less of a "white" thing than it is a combination of socio-economic status (bikes are expensive), ethnic cultural biases ("Cycling is for white people"), and opportunities (how many of us have to work at getting to a place to cycle, while passing up facilities for football, basketball, baseball, etc?). That and the vicious cycle (pardon the pun) of having no relevant role models. Same for swimming. Athletically gifted athletes of African origin tend to gravitate towards sports where they've seen success by people who look like them. The same endurance that makes a good cyclist also makes a good soccer player...
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Old 08-04-05, 12:36 PM   #4
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Because the sponsors want to sponsor people that will help them sell to the high-dollar demographic? "Black folk don't sell (to white folk?)"
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Old 08-04-05, 12:39 PM   #5
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Ok...I'd like to throw this into the mix then for thought. How about Asians? Look at how much strength and endurance they have in a sports like gymnastics or diving, plus with their smaller frames (physical), I would think they would excel at cycling.
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Old 08-04-05, 12:43 PM   #6
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cycling is huge in japan but they go nuts for track racing, keirin in particular. people bet on it like hose races.

as for the pro peloton being white, i think it's mostly due to cycling being predominately a western european sport(till this year anyway!)
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Old 08-04-05, 12:43 PM   #7
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ed-horse races.
hose races could be fun though....
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Old 08-04-05, 12:51 PM   #8
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Hispanics are pretty well represented in the peleton. However, one of the things my wife and I discussed during the TdF coverage is that back in the late 80's, when Team 7-11 was around, the Colombians were very strong in the mountains. This year, I didn't hear about too many of the Columbian climbers.

Good points about the Asians and Blacks though. It would be nice to see more diversity in the sport.
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Old 08-04-05, 01:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chigrl71
Ok...I'd like to throw this into the mix then for thought. How about Asians? Look at how much strength and endurance they have in a sports like gymnastics or diving, plus with their smaller frames (physical), I would think they would excel at cycling.
Eh? This is the first time I've heard of Asians as having a lot of strength and endurance

Asian cultures don't seem to place as much empahsis on sports as Westerners. For starters, in most of Asia, cycling is the peasants' form of transport. Everyone aspires to driving a car- witness the explosion of cars in China and Taiwan over the last decade. Japan, which is wealthy, is a bit of an exception to this in that it's developed its own form of racing, but even in Japan cycling is a fringe activity. In most of asia, riding recreationally would be the last thing on anyones mind. I've noticed something similar when touring in South America- people think that cycle tourists are crazy and look down on them for choosing such a cheap method of transportation.


There are the obvious exceptions such as table tennis, badminton, etc. However, we certainly are not noted for dominating the world when it comes to track and field where strength and endurance are key. Smaller bodies woudn't help much either. Sure, it's important in gymnastics or diving where low centers of gravity and shorter bone levers help. But the TdF riders didn't tend to be small, did they?

Last edited by womble; 08-04-05 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 08-04-05, 01:29 PM   #10
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our local races in NY are pretty diverse.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:17 PM   #11
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Japan took silver for Men's track cycling in Athens 2004.

Japan Toshiaki Fushimi, Masaki Inoue, Tomohiro Nagatsuka 44.355

http://www.smh.com.au/olympics/sched...ling/day8.html
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Old 08-04-05, 02:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by kf5nd
Because the sponsors want to sponsor people that will help them sell to the high-dollar demographic? "Black folk don't sell (to white folk?)"
Explain the NBA then. Or professional boxing.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:29 PM   #13
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Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania have a good history of long distance runners. Their physique would also be good for such events as TdF.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:32 PM   #14
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>>Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania have a good history of long distance runners. Their physique would also be good for such events as TdF.

Yup. But how many pre-teens, tweens & teenagers in these countries have access to bikes, gear, coaches, and enough competition to get the attention & sponsors needed to become top-level cyclists? Not many, so they become runners instead. Ones with a bit more resources become footballers.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:34 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by RegularGuy
Explain the NBA then. Or professional boxing.
Okay then: NBA and pro boxing bodies don't try to sell $1000 pieces of sporting equipment. They sell tickets to fans (a couple hours of entertainment, not a durable material good like a bike) or merchanising.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:34 PM   #16
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As a teacher of linguistics (therefore a student of social trends and cultural anthropology), these kind of questions fascinate me. I'd say that it is because of the fact that until recently, professional road cycling was a sport dominated by Western Europe. It wasn't until LeMond that Americans really started to get an interest (at a popular level). Until recently, Western Europe wasn't known for it's ethnic diversity beyond different white-caucasian ethnicities. That may be a reason behind it, but I cannot say that I am speaking authoritatively--just an untested and unresearched hypothesis. I would guess that in the next 10 years we will see an increase in non-white in cycling. I truly look forward to it.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:40 PM   #17
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That may be a reason behind it, but I cannot say that I am speaking authoritatively--just an untested and unresearched hypothesis. I would guess that in the next 10 years we will see an increase in non-white in cycling. I truly look forward to it.
Untested hypotheses are the most interesting ones

I would bet against you though. I don't think we'll see a significant increase in non-white cycling. I'm not expecting any major economic improvements to most of Africa, and I think Asia has too many factors against it- cultural disinterest (eg China is more into material weath, not sporting diversity) and completely inapporpriate weather in the southeast.

This thread is pretty good so far. Everyone's being rational. Anyone care to guess as to how long this thread can avoid PC ranting?

Last edited by womble; 08-04-05 at 02:47 PM.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:40 PM   #18
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I'm glad you brought it up....because I'd been thinking of starting a thread like this since the beginning days of the TDF.

I notice a few white Americans, a bunch of white Europeans and a smattering of Central/South American hispanics. I noticed no black (American/African/Islands/Other), not to mention Asians.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:53 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by womble
Okay then: NBA and pro boxing bodies don't try to sell $1000 pieces of sporting equipment. They sell tickets to fans (a couple hours of entertainment, not a durable material good like a bike) or merchanising.
There's some truth in this.

The NBA sells their clothing line to inner city youth but it's the sneaker manufacturers that make the top dollar. You can't sell a 1K bike in the inner city but sneakers are a different story.
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Old 08-04-05, 02:58 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by kf5nd
Because the sponsors want to sponsor people that will help them sell to the high-dollar demographic? "Black folk don't sell (to white folk?)"

...and no white kids ever bought Air Jordan? Inflamatory BS
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Old 08-04-05, 03:15 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jswilson64
What, you never heard of Major Taylor? :-)

My theory is that it's less of a "white" thing than it is a combination of socio-economic status (bikes are expensive), ethnic cultural biases ("Cycling is for white people"), and opportunities (how many of us have to work at getting to a place to cycle, while passing up facilities for football, basketball, baseball, etc?). That and the vicious cycle (pardon the pun) of having no relevant role models. Same for swimming. Athletically gifted athletes of African origin tend to gravitate towards sports where they've seen success by people who look like them. The same endurance that makes a good cyclist also makes a good soccer player...
There was actually a movie made of Major Taylor and his struggles.

"Tracks of Glory" http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0103113/

The description on IMDB is less than glamorous however:
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The less-than-exciting sport of cycle-racing gets the Australian mini-series treatment in Marcus Cole's "Tracks of Glory", set in the early 1900s. As usual with these things, the period is nicely evoked and the script maintains a steady pace, but the drama is too restrained and - with the notable exception of Richard Roxburgh's performance as a flashy sports promoter - the characters aren't terribly interesting. The two leading men, Cameron Daddo and Phil Morris, are attractive and talented, but neither of them is allowed to broaden the range of their muted characterisations.
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Old 08-04-05, 03:22 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by womble
Okay then: NBA and pro boxing bodies don't try to sell $1000 pieces of sporting equipment. They sell tickets to fans (a couple hours of entertainment, not a durable material good like a bike) or merchanising.
Now explain Tiger Woods.
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Old 08-04-05, 03:28 PM   #23
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The more expensive a sport cost to get involved in, the less minorities you will see in it. You'll actually see a lot more people riding bikes in poor neighborhoods and poor countries but you won't see them riding expensive ones nor racing competive.

Seeing minorities in Bicycling Magazine are rare.

The Tour du Faso takes place in Africa and had a lot of native Africans in the race.
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Old 08-04-05, 03:59 PM   #24
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I think that someone should start a foundation to encourage AA's to get into cyling. Look what Tiger did for golf and the William sisters did for tennis. I do believe that it is economics and I can't imagine locking my bike up down town Detroit.
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Old 08-04-05, 04:06 PM   #25
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Be careful where you step in this thread
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