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Why African athletes haven't dominated our sport?

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Why African athletes haven't dominated our sport?

Old 07-20-15, 05:18 AM
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Antonio_V
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Why African athletes haven't dominated our sport?

I had a thought whilst watching the tour last night. Athletes from Africa (in particular the Eastern nations) don't dominate pro-cycling like they do running, even though the activities share commonalities. Putting Froom and Daniel Teklehaimanot aside, there's still seems to be a gap, I'm guessing there has to be some financial barriers maybe even cultural?
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Old 07-20-15, 05:42 AM
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For the most part, road racing is a European sport...so it's no wonder why other areas of the globe haven't dominated.
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Old 07-20-15, 06:04 AM
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Interesting question. It is not just the USA and Europe dominate the sport, but the majority of the riders are fair skinned.

Perhaps it is a perception thing that African Americans, and blacks elsewhere don't perceive the sport as being as important as other sports such as basketball and football. And the bikes may not be viewed as recreation/sport. Perhaps they would even be seen as a symbol of poverty. Get a CAR!!!

As far as African nations. Is their road network sufficient to support long distance bicycling? Access to good bikes and parts?

How popular is amateur cycling? One really needs to have a strong amateur, and perhaps hobby influence to drive the creation of professional cyclists.
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Old 07-20-15, 06:16 AM
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Nope. Those that have responded don't get it.
Great question OP and one many have considered.
Reason is the same that the northern Europeans dominate in power lifting and win the strongest man contest. The strongest men on the planet are from northern European and fair skinned. Blacks have superior quick twitch. This has been demonstrated in track and field repeatledy...and why blacks dominate in basketball. But they don't dominate in large degree in baseball and football by the same margin...depending on position This isn't about access. Its about genetic agreement with given sport. Swimming is another notable area. Lots of water around Africa. Not many competitive blacks in Swimming. The power of and slow twitch attributes of fair skinned athletes lines up with cycling. Gears and bicycles meld well with the physical attributes of fair skinned people and the dominance of quick twitch is diminished. Have there been great blacks in the pro peloton? Absolutely...there is in the current TdF. Are they dominant? No...nor in the foreseeable future.
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Old 07-20-15, 06:33 AM
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Campag, there is so much incorrect in your post. First off, powerlifting engages fast twitch muscle fibers, which according to your theory would make Africans, not Europeans superior in strong man and power lifting competitions.

Second, if Africans have inferior slow twitch mucles, why do they win marathons so frequently? African men have won every single Boston marathon since 1988 with the exception of three (one of whom was Meb Keflezighi, who is an American born in Eritrea, which makes him African).

My theory is it's primarily cultural. The sport was born in Europe, and that's where most of the money comes from.
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Old 07-20-15, 06:38 AM
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Why? It's a little thing called systemic and institutional racism.
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Old 07-20-15, 06:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Ajkollme View Post
Campag, there is so much incorrect in your post. First off, powerlifting engages fast twitch muscle fibers, which according to your theory would make Africans, not Europeans superior in strong man and power lifting competitions.

Second, if Africans have inferior slow twitch mucles, why do they win marathons so frequently? African men have won every single Boston marathon since 1988 with the exception of three (one of whom was Meb Keflezighi, who is an American born in Eritrea, which makes him African).

My theory is it's primarily cultural. The sport was born in Europe, and that's where most of the money comes from.
And you would be wrong...in bold. The cultural ship has sailed decades ago. Sport is global. The best athletes rise in sport 'in spite of' cultural bias.
Not unlike the poor black kid with an IQ of 145 without a father but with loving and poor mother who ends up at Harvard. Its the talent of the kid that gets that kid to Harvard or MIT with all odds against them. The crème always rises in any endeavor in spite of inhibiting factors. The institutional racism rant of ignorant people is just that.Tiger Woods is a singular manifestation. He rose to the top of the game as a transformation figure permeating an all white sport...even though there were blacks of lesser note that preceded him. Similarly his rank has slipped to 240 because of current talent level relative to the world wide tour who has passed him by. His color is incidental. His talent got him to the top and has sunk him down below the top 150 in the world.

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Old 07-20-15, 06:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Not unlike the poor black kid with an IQ of 145 without a father but with loving and poor mother who ends up at Harvard.
A lottery win does not prove the investment model works. Data outliers do not support theories about the norm. A black POTUS does not prove that there is no racism in America. The cultural ship has sailed nowhere.
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Old 07-20-15, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by DaveWC View Post
A lottery win does not prove the investment model works. Data outliers do not support theories about the norm. A black POTUS does not prove that there is no racism in America. The cultural ship has sailed nowhere.
But it was Obama's talent as a politician that got him elected. He beat the field. It doesn't matter if he was purple or had two left feet. His lack of talent as president in contrast has kept American at its subsistent level as well. His color is incidental. In fact his getting elected completely refuses your theory and supports mine. He got elected in spite of the racism you see in every dim light corner.
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Old 07-20-15, 07:08 AM
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Sorry, it's hard to take you seriously after you ignore the refutation of your statement about blacks and fast vs slow twitch muscles. Powerlifting requires fast twitch muscles and marathon running is ruled by slow twitch... both aspects completely destroying the point you thought you were making... both which you ignored. I'm not going to continue with the Obama/bad politician aspect that I am at fault for beginning... I'll content myself with watching your unemployment % drop, your jobless claims drop, your stock market double, and consider the effect that both parties & partisanship have on the economy. Anyone with any knowledge of stats understands that you don't list outlier data as a means of proving your theory about the norm.
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Old 07-20-15, 07:14 AM
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Already such epic levels of facepalm in this thread.

Anyway the answer is complicated, just like the reasons for East African* dominance in long distance running are complicated. East Africans do not dominate in other endurance sports outside of running; it's not really that surprising that they do not dominate in cycling.


*The genetic background that contributes so much to the success of Kenyan and Ethiopian long distance runners happens to include dark skin; but while these athletes' blackness is socially and politically very important, it isn't biologically relevant to their speed as runners. Black people around the globe have a huge range of genetic diversity. Campag's attribution of "quick twitch" ability to black people, and his conclusion that this is the reason for the racial mix in sports like track and field and basketball, isn't just cringe-inducing, it's scientifically wrong.
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Old 07-20-15, 07:18 AM
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I have to assume a lot of it has to do with the high expenses associated with cycling. While not all Africans or African-Americans are unable to afford cycling, the vast majority of professional athletes in sports where blacks are dominating come from a poor upbringing. It's almost free to grab an old basketball and go down to the community courts and play. In addition, basketball and football are the two most popular high school and middle school sports. This also leads to a very easy introduction to these sports, while also keeping the costs of joining down.

Take a look at ice hockey for example. There are very few black professional ice hockey players. This has nothing to do with genetic makeup, as there are a few black pro's that are at the top of the league. Playing hockey growing up is very expensive (gear, ice time, coaches, etc.) which makes it more difficult to begin playing at a young age for lower-income people.

Cycling is the same way. Road bikes are expensive. Cycling gear is expensive. With the added expenses associated with cycling, the low amount of resources to get low-income youths into cycling, and with no public schools offering cycling as a sport, I dont see blacks dominating cycling as we have seen them do with other sports the last 20 years. Also, the glitz/glamor of being a pro football or basketball player is another draw to those sports. The paychecks received and the celeb status associated with them is nothing like cycling. I assume the drive to be a pro football player is just much more attractive for a young black person, as the money is better, the celeb status is much higher (in the US at least), and the cost of entry is significantly cheaper.
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Old 07-20-15, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
But it was Obama's talent as a politician that got him elected..
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Old 07-20-15, 07:24 AM
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places like RSA, the diamond mines are where labor goes .. way down .. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Hole
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Old 07-20-15, 07:25 AM
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Who knew that the late Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder was on bikeforums under a new handle?

The bottom line is this - look who dominates the participation of in ANY major sport as children, and you will see where the champions come from - and the reasons can be cultural, or they can be socio-economic - they are almost invariably NOT genetic:

Dominicans grow up playing baseball almost exclusively, and now they are vastly over-represented in the Major Leagues.

American male children hardly play soccer at all, compared to Basketball, Football, and Baseball, and we have no presence in big time male soccer compared to South America, Europe and Africa. Conversely, it's the major participatory sport for American girls, and our women dominate the sport. And American males dominate pro Basketball and Football - and used to dominate baseball, prior to places like the Dominican Republic embracing the sport at the youth level.

Hockey is the major youth sport in Canada, and Canadians dominate the world of Professional Hockey, with recent inroads from northern Europe as the sport gained popularity there.

Black children in Africa run, and play soccer. Those are the sports that they do well in as adults.


etc, etc, etc.

Once in a while, you will see an anomaly - almost always caused by a visionary/obsessive parent who made it their life's mission to create a champion out of their child in a sport they don't generally have a presence in - co-existing with children who happen to have exceptional talent: See Earl Woods or Richard Williams as the prime examples - But Chris Evert and Andre Agassi's fathers were cut from the same mold.

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Old 07-20-15, 07:29 AM
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Uh, Major Taylor, and a few Track sprinters come to mind. There are a lot of amateurs now rising through the ranks. Sports exposure plays a major role also.

Cycling in the late 1800's was one of the most popular sports in the world. Many of the sports arenas were built for Cycling, not boxing, New York comes to mind.


Exposure to the sport has been the only limiting factor. Now with cycling becoming shown more on tv, And bike products becoming readily available, I think that there will be a major shift in the years to come.
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Old 07-20-15, 07:33 AM
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It's important to remember when making economic arguments about the USA anyway that there is in fact a very large black middle class here! It's just as wrong to essentially imply that all black Americans are impoverished. Class is definitely a factor in the racial mix of American sports, but there is more going on than that. Exactly what, I don't know. It's complex. Football, for example, is another equipment-intensive sport, but a lot less white than hockey. And also one with a noticeable racial hierarchy in positions. White people aren't biologically better-suited to being quarterbacks. Race in sports remains an incredibly tangled mess and that reflects the mess in the rest of society. Unconscious and conscious racism still have huge roles to play both in who does what kinds of sports and what we think about that.

And with that I'm out.
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Old 07-20-15, 07:44 AM
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Where do you go to road race at the highest levels? Europe...that's where.

It's a cultural thing, one with a long history...like how soccer just isn't that huge of a sport here in the US or why baseball isn't a huge sport in France.

This whole biological fast twitch/slow twitch muscle thing is bunk.
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Old 07-20-15, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Antonio_V View Post
I had a thought whilst watching the tour last night. Athletes from Africa (in particular the Eastern nations) don't dominate pro-cycling like they do running, even though the activities share commonalities. Putting Froom and Daniel Teklehaimanot aside, there's still seems to be a gap, I'm guessing there has to be some financial barriers maybe even cultural?
Two things, $$$ and culture.
Only country to have an organized bike group is Eritrea because they were colonized by the Italians, hence the bike culture grew.
Spent high school years in Kenya and though we were not poor the cost of a bike was just too much. Only people that had bikes were older folks and that was their daily transportation to work etc. The rich had mountain bikes (Froome etc) for casual rides. It's just too expensive and if you are good there is no support from either government or charity.
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Old 07-20-15, 08:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
Nope. Those that have responded don't get it.
Great question OP and one many have considered.
Reason is the same that the northern Europeans dominate in power lifting and win the strongest man contest. The strongest men on the planet are from northern European and fair skinned. Blacks have superior quick twitch. This has been demonstrated in track and field repeatledy...and why blacks dominate in basketball. But they don't dominate in large degree in baseball and football by the same margin...depending on position This isn't about access. Its about genetic agreement with given sport. Swimming is another notable area. Lots of water around Africa. Not many competitive blacks in Swimming. The power of and slow twitch attributes of fair skinned athletes lines up with cycling. Gears and bicycles meld well with the physical attributes of fair skinned people and the dominance of quick twitch is diminished. Have there been great blacks in the pro peloton? Absolutely...there is in the current TdF. Are they dominant? No...nor in the foreseeable future.
I think you have it all very wrong.
African Americans have no interest in baseball due to the minor league thing. Quick money in football and basketball.
Competitive Swimming-No one has interest in competitive swimming and you need an organized programme which is costly hence private schools can afford to hire a swimming coach or even afford to build a swimming pool.
Cycling is very expensive compared to running.
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Old 07-20-15, 08:10 AM
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There goes Campag4life again biting down on a bone and never letting go regardless of how misguided his viewpoint is... There's so many times you have to facepalm reading his posts.

The whole concept of grouping the entirety of the African continent into "blacks" is absurd as you just can not profile them all into one genetic model with the level of diversity within Africa. The type of athlete you find coming out of Nigeria isn't the same type of athlete you'll find coming out of Kenya or the type you'll find coming out of South Africa. You have tons of players born and raised in Africa that are playing in the NFL or dominating the distance running events, his one mold theory is just proven false on so many levels. Then he fails to understand the concept of opportunity. Much of the Eastern African region is incredibly poor, most of the people in these regions can't afford to buy a bike. This is in part of the reason why running is predominant from certain countries, not only does running cost nothing (most are running barefoot and it's the most predominant mode of transportation), there's an incredible amount of sponsor money available for the upper level runners and races are fairly accessible. Cycling isn't cheap, doesn't have a ton of endorsement money available nor are the races with decent purses available to the general public. This is a part of the reason for MTN Qhubeka's mission for giving bikes away to students and teachers to expand education, many in these regions just don't have the finances to afford it even if it's the only way to get to school. Then you can go on about the social aspect as to where the culture shapes the type of athlete... Also, just in case you don't know, power lifting is primarily fast twitch muscles so you may need to reevaluate your argument in "blacks have superior quick twitch."

I could go on but there's really no need as Campag4Life's statements are just so awfully wrong on so many levels.

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Old 07-20-15, 08:13 AM
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Cycling culture is important. When I lived in Spain there were bike clubs and bike racing for kids of all ages and all economic backgrounds. It didn't take expensive bikes and grownup enthusiasts volunteered leading training rides and bike maintenance classes. This gave the sport a broad base of athletes from which to discover a gem.

In the U.S. our school-based and community supported sports infrastructure draws from a broad base in basketball and football. New and developing sports require a lot of travel to find competition. Once a sport becomes super popular with hundreds of teams in a single area code I don't see the purpose of "traveling" sports teams that turn less expensive sports like soccer into something prohibitively expensive for many parents of potential future superstars. Maybe it serves its purpose; I don't know.
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Old 07-20-15, 08:13 AM
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Old 07-20-15, 08:19 AM
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Doesn't "black" mean African American?

I'm not sure you're supposed to refer to people from Africa as "blacks".
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Old 07-20-15, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by grolby View Post
Anyway the answer is complicated, just like the reasons for East African* dominance in long distance running are complicated. East Africans do not dominate in other endurance sports outside of running; it's not really that surprising that they do not dominate in cycling.
What other endurance sports are there besides long distance running, though?
There's rowing and xc skiing which requires infrastructure: equipment, organization, access

Running is probably the closest analogue to cycling in terms of pure aerobic exertion. (It's kinda interesting how much more analytical cycling is than any other sports in terms of know/surmised/theoretical limits e.g. "froome can only climb this mountain at this pace because his vo2 max is xx weight is yy HR is zz")

Biggest difference being: running is free
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