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July 31, 2005


Even more disturbing is the actual article itself, where all these companies (Nike, EA Sports, etc) try to brand these 18 year olds as if they were prize cattle.

Especially amusing/chilling was the "It's in the game" (EA tagline) chant they made them do at the end of practice.

According to the 2000 census, 12.3% of the population is Black. According to the photo, 14.2% of the sample set of the top high school quarterbacks are Black.

What's puzzling is not the lack of Black quarterbacks; it's the lack of quarterbacks who are Hispanic, Asian, American Indian, etc. This is the demographic hole that the White quarterback is filling. Why? Got me.

There are a lot of complex reasons that members of different racial/ethnic groups play different sports. I'm not talking about that. Let's focus on the people who play football, which includes a high percentage of African Americans. At the Division I level, approximately half of the players are blacks. But blacks are heavily underrepresented at quarterback in a way they are not at other positions. That's the point.

Blacks are playing all the WR, DB, and LB roles - bigger (not fatter), stronger, faster. The only position that whities have a chance at is QB; so, you have 2 million whities duking it out for the coveted QB position, which happens to be the chick magnet position, too.

Brendan, you're living in the past: the black QB is on a serious upswing. It used to be the rare exception, like Doug Williams or Randall Cunningham. Now, you have:
McNabb, McNair, Vick, Culpepper, Leftwich - all studs or at least quality guys, and the following serviceable/backup guys: Aaron Brooks, Charlie Batch, Tony Banks, Anthony Wright, Rohan Davey, Shaun King (still in the league?). Plus young guys/no-names Adrian MacPherson, Quinn Gray...just from a quick glance at ESPN.com's player list. Is there still prejudice against black quarterbacks? Probably. Have we come a long, long way? Absolutely.

It's too early to say whether the upswing in black quarterbacks is a trend or a fluke.

I can't figure out what your point is, Brendan. Why would you assume the racial makeup of quarterbacks should be the same as that of other positions?

I think the question is the reverse: why wouldn't the numbers be the same, or at least close to the same? All the other skill positions have significant numbers of African American players. Why should QB be any different? I suppose you could tell a story about class that depends on access to expensive coaching from an early age, but I doubt that's sufficient to explain the gap.

The numbers aren't the same because the skills necessary aren't the same. Throwing the ball is a very different skill from catching it or running with it or kicking it, and it's of course very different from blocking and tackling. If you were to list the five most important traits in a quarterback and the five most important traits in any other position, you'd have two completely different lists.

Those athletic traits are highly correlated with each other. There's no reason to think that a reasonable number of the people playing RB or WR or safety or whatever couldn't have been a good QB. It's wildly implausible to suggest that racial disparities in QB skills explains the gap.

The larger sociological question is not why the quarterback position is disproportionately white, but why football (and many other amateur and pro sports)are so disproportionately black, given the incentives involved, particularly at the pro level. Not many people want to touch this one.

Care to try?

look at the Big 12 this year, Oklahoma could have a black QB, Mizzou has Brad Smith , Texas has Vince Young , Texas A&M has McNeal, Oklahoma State has Donavan Woods. Every big team in the Big 12 seems to have a black Quarter Back, so I totally do not concur.

Why are there so few white running backs at the Division I college and NFL level? I cannot think of a single featured starting running back in the NFL who is white. Any guesses on why this is so?

The current crop of HS QBs may just be a blip. The college scene has several black QBs among the national elite, in addition to the obvious stars at the pro level. From Pat Forde at ESPN: "Phil Steele's preview magazine rates African-Americans as five of the nation's top six QBs: Vince Young of Texas; Reggie McNeal of Texas A&M; Chris Leak of Florida; Omar Jacobs of Bowling Green (above); and Brad Smith of Missouri."

I still don't understand why it matters that there are not many black quarterbacks in the USA Today crop of QB's. As far as I can tell, there is not a single white featured running back in the NFL right now, nor does any top Division I program feature a white running back. Is that a big deal? If not, then why is a lack of black quarterbacks an issue?

Brendan, maybe this post is too old and you're no longer looking at the comments, but I wish you'd respond to those of us who have commented. You're a smart guy and this is a subject I'm interested in so I'd like to hear what you think, but your post and your comments just don't make any sense. You replied to my last comment with, "It's wildly implausible to suggest that racial disparities in QB skills explains the gap." But in fact I'm suggesting the exact opposite. I'm suggesting racial parity in the skills necessary to be a quarterback. You're the one suggesting that blacks have superior skills necessary to be quarterbacks, but you haven't provided any evidence for why. You also haven't responded to the questions about why running backs are white, and now I'll pose another: Why are kickers and punters disproportionately white? You're the one who raised this issue (it is your blog, after all) but it seems like you're unwilling to tell us exactly what you think.

See my first comment: There are a variety of complex reasons why blacks are overrepresented among football players. I don't have a systematic explanation for that. But of the African Americans who play football at a high level, disproportionately few of them play quarterback.

As for why kickers and punters are disproportionately white: they're mostly ex-soccer players. Soccer is, for complex reasons, a largely white sport in this country.

Also, I'm hopeful from Seth's post above that things might be getting better.

There are some asian quarterbacks on the rise. just check out TimmyChang.net for some video clips of several QBs.

The lasy six years have seen a huge upswing in the amount of black players at the QB position. If you want to know where the position is going look at the best QBs coming out of high school and college....those will be the players that will be in the NFL in 2-6 years.

At the High School and College level there are more than at any other time before this one at large programs like Penn ST, Ohio ST, Texas, LSU, Georgia etc.

By the end of this decade the position is going to be quite diverse.

Even Pacific Islanders from the western USA seem to be making a move into playing the position.

Brendan, if ' under represented ' means that blacks are not ' over represented ' to the same degree at quarterback as they are at other positions I would agree with your ' under represented ' description.

My contention is that there are three basic reasons for this 'under representation '. First, most coaches in the pros and at major colleges and universities are white.

Since the quarterback is the player that directs the team on the field most white coaches probably relate and communicate better and more freely with the white quarterback. It is probably true that other ethnic coaches unfortunately have similar preferences and attitudes.

Also since the quarterback is the most visible member of the team many white fans may be somewhat more accepting and supportive of the coach and the team if the leader of the team is white. This plays into their 'intellectual superiority' notion. Consequently having a white quarterback would appear to be good considered economics.

Finally in most pocket offenses the emphasis is on a strong and accurate arm and not quickness and speed. Therefore many white players with quickness and speed are used by white coaches at other positions.

For these reasons most white coaches generally will recruit a good white quarterback if they can get one before considering other ethnic quarterbacks.

Art M

Does anyone ever say the NBA is too black? Get over yourself

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