Monday, February 02, 2009

Politically Incorrect Questions


1. 74% of the U.S. population is white and 13.4% is black (

2. About 90% of NBA players are black (

3. About 70% of the players in the NFL are black, but out of the league’s 32 teams, only six African Americans are head coaches. The situation is worse in the executive box – three black general managers. As poor a record as this is, black representation in the ranks of college football coaches makes the NFL coaching fraternity look like the Harlem Globetrotters. Only six of 117 NCAA head football coaches are African American, according to the Black Coaches Association, even though 50% of the college players are black.


1. Compared to their percentage of the overall population (13.4%), black players are significantly over-represented as players in the NBA (90%) and NFL (70%), and significantly under-represented as coaches.

2. Compared to their percentage of the overall population (74%), white players are significantly under-represented as players in the NBA (10%) and NFL (30%), and significantly over-represented as coaches.

Politically Incorrect Questions: Why is it that so many people think that the under-representation of black coaches is a problem, but very few think the under-representation of white players is a problem? Shouldn't they both be a problem, or neither be a problem? If efforts are made to increase the percentage of black coaches, why not an equivalent effort to increase the percentage of white players?

Comments welcome.


At 2/02/2009 11:20 PM, Blogger Jason Gillman said...

I cannot comment.. as I am white. It would seem inappropriate.. yes?

At 2/02/2009 11:29 PM, Blogger stevedp86 said...

Whoever is better for the position should get it. I'm white. Black people are better at football and basketball so who cares. Shouldnt talent prevail...for both players and coaches?

At 2/02/2009 11:33 PM, Blogger Brett said...

Agree or not, I believe the reasoning is that the high percentage of black players is based on talent and ability, while the low percentage of coaches is based on racism. Provable? Not sure how...

At 2/02/2009 11:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i suspect the screening criteria for the 2 jobs are different and what you are watching is the market in action. for the one job the market selects for physical prowess, for the other it selects for intellect

At 2/03/2009 12:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, we forgot to mention anything about ability did we? I have a feeling that teams are overloaded with blacks as they are superior players (unless somebody can prove otherwise). so thats that... As far as coaches are concerned, I would believe that might have something organisational about it. After all, coaches are not picked in trials, they normally work up the ranks - so there might be an issue of a glass ceiling there. Now to answer your point, like any rational market, quality of the player is rewarded. I wonder thats the reason why nobody asks the same question about sprint runners who are so heavily lopsided in distribution

At 2/03/2009 1:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't consider either a problem.

FWIW, I approach things first from economic and class perspectives, rather than race.

I note that in general, sports which have low financial costs of individual entry (e.g. basketball, football) tend to have high proportions of black players, and sports which high costs of individual entry (e.g. golf) tend to have disproportionately few black players.

Any ghetto kid can - and many do - play all the hoops he wants. Playing a round of golf is something else entirely.

Coaches and managers have a hierarchy which takes time to ascent. There are now black coaches and managers in the pipeline, so their numbers will increase.

At 2/03/2009 1:06 AM, Blogger xlbrl said...

Two facts.

1) Half of all NFL head coaches are below average. Some are way below average.
So there is opportunity there.

2) Most black NFL players are really stupid. Some are so obnoxious, it is impossible to say what they are. But it is not coaching materiel.

Yes, I know Tony Dungy is intelligent. And a gentleman.
Some of my best friends are stupid white people. Blah blah blah.
Things are not going to be looking up for black NFL coaches in the next six thousand years.

As for owners, ask Jessie and Al to pony up some of what they shake down corporations for and put it where their mouths are.

Maybe Freddie and Fannie can finance them.

Who the hell really cares. Grievance number 257 and counting.

At 2/03/2009 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing: Perceived opportunities (or the lack thereof) influence individual decisions to pursue player careers.

My cousin was captain of his high school football team, but he saw his future outside of sports.

A ghetto kid is more likely to perceive sports as his only ticket out, and consequently obsess on sports.

At 2/03/2009 3:22 AM, Blogger J Young said...

The reason why white players are underrepresented in basketball and football is clear - the average ability gap is large. I'll take the best black basketball players in the game, phil jackson can have all the whities I'll school his ass.

With coaching, the situation is less clear. If you assume that racism exists, and that being black adds some sort of additional barrier to getting a coaching job, then the black coaches that are coaching now should be better than average (ala the jackie robinson effect).

Let's look at NFL coaches and see if this works. Why NFL? Because I like it best and could pull up the numbers easily. Below, I have rank ordered the black coaches in the NFL according to their regular season record and compared them to the total 32 coaches. I know this is overly simplistic but someone else can do a better job of it.

1) Romeo Crennel 4-12 (rank 5/32)
2) Marvin Lewis 4-11-1 (rank 6/32)
3) Mike Singeltary 7-9 (rank 10/32)
4) Lovie Smith 9-7 (rank 18/32)
5) Mike Tomlin 12-4 (rank 30/32)
6) Tony Dungy 12-4 (rank 31/32)

Now if coaches are purely selected on ability, then the average ranking for these coaches should be 16.5.

What's the average? 16.6. Surprising? Sure surprised me, but the NFL has long been considered fairly good to black coaches. I will note though, that of the 6 coaches in the last 3 superbowls, one-half of them have been black.

I wonder if it works for other sports as well?

At 2/03/2009 4:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Comments welcome."

I used to comment here more often but then I realized you don't ask such stupid questions because you are stupid. You ask them because it is in your nature as a teacher to get people to think. Maybe that is good for some people, for others it is a waste of time. I think you ought to be more forth coming about your own opinions. Then people who agree with what you really think won't have to waste time saying so.

At 2/03/2009 4:36 AM, Blogger PeakTrader said...

There are differences in physiology that make black players better in some sport roles. Also, conforming seems to be an important factor. Most quarterbacks and coaches in the NFL are white, in part, because blacks have stronger legs, more speed, and spend more time playing than studying to be a coach. However, in golf, Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh (who won more tournaments over the age of 40 than anyone else and was #1 for two consecutive years in the 2000s) are non-conformists, and both overachievers, similar to Wayne Gretzky in hockey. Racism seems almost insignificant. I've seen financial firms hire African blacks instead of American blacks, because they had better attitudes or personalities.

At 2/03/2009 7:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand that African-Americans are a high percentage of players, but why would that necessarily lead to being a high percentage of coaches? You don't really need experience as a player to design an effective offensive or defensive play. It's more about sitting, watching, and re-watching hours of film. Is it possible that white kids with less ability on the field are more likely drawn to that end of the business?

Besides, doesn't it stand to reason that blacks should be about 13% of coaches? Instead they have about 19% of coaching jobs, and that still counts as underrepresentation?

At 2/03/2009 8:10 AM, Blogger QT said...


The point of the exercise is not indoctrinating posters to the same position as the blog host or telling students how to think. The object is critical thinking and learning how to make a good case to back up your position.

Actually, this post has illicited some very plausible, logical theories to account for the discrepancy and one poster has sought additional data to try to discern a pattern.

Another variable is incentives. We could compare Players salaries vs. Coaches salaries.

A blog I came across suggested this possible explanation:

The coaches who are former players today played in a time when the salaries were not all that great. They put in 12-16 hour days for years before moving up the coaching ladder. So, with the salaries today's players rake in, why would a player who has made millions of dollars want to start all over again at the botton. Put in 12-16 hour days in hopes of becoming a head coach?

One could also consider how players health affects the outcome. Life expectancy of NFL players is 55 yrs. which is 22 years less than the average American. One could also consider the prevalence of brain trauma which affects memory, concentration and mood.

At 2/03/2009 8:57 AM, Blogger Michael Kruse said...

BTW, blacks are 13.4% of of the population. Black coaches are 18.75% of all NFL coaches (6/32). Black coaches are over-represented in the NFL.

At 2/03/2009 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some important things to remember:

Players generally make more money than coaches. They actually play the game. Many players who become coaches only do so after they have passed their physical peak and are on the decline. Some only become coaches after they have blown out their knees.

On the other hand, the lengths of coaching careers is usually far greater than playing careers. Many of the great coaches continued their careers well into their eighties. Players' careers are usually over by forty.

At 2/03/2009 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone expect us to believe that a team owner will give a $5million, $10million or $25million contract to a players (or multiple players) but allow the value of that expenditure to be squandered because the team owner was a racist and wouldn't allow a black man to coach the team?!?!?

If a team owner is going to run a $100million payroll you can pretty sure damned well be sure he is going to do all he cal to extract the value from that $100million. Race pimps need to just keep on walking down the street to find another example of racial disparity to blame on whitey.

Personally, I don't see many black owners in football. How is whitey manipulating the number of black owners?

At 2/03/2009 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting question and unbelievable responses; ... blacks are more talented, ... the ability gap is large.

So, talent and ability are a function of race??

Let's play the same game with crime statistics.

After all, in 2006, blacks were 37.5% of all state and federal prisoners, though they're under 13% of the national population. About one in 33 black men was in prison in 2006, compared with one in 205 white men and one in 79 Hispanic men. Eleven percent of all black males between the ages of 20 and 34 are in prison or jail.

The favorite culprits for high black prison rates include a biased legal system, draconian drug enforcement and even prison itself. None of these explanations stands up to scrutiny.

The black incarceration rate is overwhelmingly a function of black crime. Insisting otherwise only worsens black alienation and further defers a real solution to the black crime problem.

Racial activists usually remain silent about that problem. But in 2005, the black homicide rate was more than seven times higher than that of whites and Hispanics combined, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.

From 1976 to 2005, blacks committed more than 52% of all murders in America. In 2006, the black arrest rate for most crimes was two to nearly three times blacks' representation in the population. Blacks constituted 39.3% of all violent-crime arrests, including 56.3% of all robbery and 34.5% of all aggravated-assault arrests, and 29.4% of all property-crime arrests.


You'll know we've arrived when everyone simply says - who cares?

At 2/03/2009 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant! Why not set quotas or a little affirmative action? I think I still have all of my NCAA eligibility remaining.

At 2/03/2009 11:30 AM, Blogger QT said...


Cannot dispute your crime statistics however, this information does not seem to offer any insights into the issue of the low number of black NFL & NBA coaches.

This is merely an observational question where a myriad of answers or even a combination of factors may be at work. Racism may not necessarily be the explanation.

Another possible explanation is the importance of celebrity and social signalling in black culture. Star players are the role models of youth not the coach sitting on the sidelines.

At 2/03/2009 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"why not an equivalent effort to increase the percentage of white players?"

Ha, ha, ha! Because we evil white males deserve every bad thing we get. Only the downtrodden minorities (or women, even though they are the majority) deserve any special considerations.

For decades we have tried to hide from two truths:

1. The average African-American is athletically superior to the average white American.

2. African-Americans have a mean IQ of 85 while white Americans have a mean IQ of 100.

These two truths explain the preponderance of African-American athletes and the preponderance of white coaches and managers. Truth number two explains why African-Americans tend to do poorly in school and in jobs that require brain-power rather than muscle-power. But, remember, you didn't read this from me.

At 2/03/2009 10:33 PM, Blogger wcw said...

You pathetic racist losers chap my hide.

At 2/03/2009 11:00 PM, Blogger happyjuggler0 said...

I'm too lazy to look up the numbers, but peiell @ 2/03/2009 3:22 AM made the proper economic approach in my opinion. Everyone should check it out.

In essence it is very simple. Imagine two groups of team owners, racists (r's) and non-racists (nr's).

The nr's do their best to hire the best coaches, regardless of race, salary permitting.

The r's, when faced with either hiring the black coach on the market who seems best, or hiring the white coach on the who seems best, always, or virtually always, hire the best white coach, even when the black coach seems better.

In other words, the nr's always try to hire the best coach, while the r's sometimes deliberately refuse to hire the best black coaches, or framed differently, the r's deliberately choose to hire inferior coaches, by definition, and they happen to be white.

What is the distributional result of these different decisions? The whites who are best always get hired, along with whites who are less than tops. But only top blacks get hired, with no one deliberately hiring merely average blacks.

Conclusion: if the empirical evidence, i.e. the results, shows that black coaches are better than white coaches on average, then this implies either that racism is going on, or that the sample size is too small. But if the results are virtually equal, that strongly implies virtually no racism involved in hiring coaches, with a minimal alternative possibility that the inferior white coaches were lucky over the time period in question.

There is one other possibility that may mess up my analysis (I say "my, but it is really classic Gary Becker). Namely, if some coaches foolishly choose affirmative action, and thus by definition they deliberately hire inferior black coaches because they have been brainwashed into thinking they are "doing the right thing".

Under this scenario, if the average performance is almost the same between whites and blacks, one would expect to see a disprportionately large number of blacks at both the top (from meritocratic team owners) and the bottom (from dopey team owners who practice affirmative action).

Regarding the stats provided in the above link, one can only say the sample size is too small to say what exactly is going on, although having two coaches smack dab in the middle of the team records makes me suspect that no one is practicing racism for (i.e. affirmative action) or against a given group in the NFL.

At 2/03/2009 11:13 PM, Blogger QT said...


Well argued that graphic!

From the link to the NFL coaches' salaries, it would appear that the sample size is 32. Yep, got to agree with you this is not really a large enough sample to make definitive conclusions.

Always a pleasure reading your posts.

At 2/03/2009 11:28 PM, Blogger happyjuggler0 said...


Thanks for the compliments. :)

I'm guessing you are the same qt that posts at aidwatch. I've enjoyed your posts there, especially your rebuttals to a certain robert feinman who clearly has no idea what "libertarian" actually means. I was going to respond there to him, but I was too exhausted to reply at the time. Thanks for sticking up for logic and against the irrelevancies he wanted people to think were important.

At 2/04/2009 7:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. T said:

2. African-Americans have a mean IQ of 85 while white Americans have a mean IQ of 100.

I, of all readers here, am highly qualified to say that IQ measures SOMETHING but I question its usefulness in measuring life ski8lls or success.

My IQ is supposedly 120. My grades and test scores were in the top 5 percent of my class. And here I am today, a miserable failure. IQ isn't half of what it has historically been cracked up to be.

At 2/04/2009 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone investigated possible class-based differences? Do blacks descended from slaves in the South differ in IQ or athletic ability than blacks descended from free Northern blacks?

How about whites descended from Southern sharecroppers? Are they more similar to blacks descended from slaves or to Northern whites - or maybe some other social or economic class?

A black high school classmate descended from free Northern blacks was very smart - we were neck-to-neck in grades and test scores - but low on athletic talent. I have no idea whether this is just an anecdotal fluke or part of a larger pattern.

At 2/05/2009 3:44 PM, Blogger QT said...


Yep, I'm the same QT as the one on Aid Watch. Hope your are still on this thread.

The most recent of Robert Feinman's posts concerns a book called The Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer, psychologist & associate prof at U of Manitoba.

This book is currently available on the web for free and is one of the worst pieces of skewing social science I have ever encountered. A true head basher.

John Martin, Poltical Pschology, Vol. 22, p.1-26 offers a comprehensive review of the biases and asymetry in Altemeyer's work.

Of course, none of the original studies are available on Altemeyer's website for readers to review methodology, sample size, selection criteria let alone check that his conclusions can resonably be inferred from the data.

The really scary thing is Robert's willingness to believe the most spurious material without question.

At 2/13/2009 8:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, who cares about professional sports! It is just an excuse to gamble. I mean does anyone really play for the city they're from anymore? Probably not, it seems almost as phony and as theatrical as "Professional" wrestling. Everyone's hopped up on roids and overpaid by sponsors while the taxpayers bond overpriced stadiums where you have to be rich to get a good seat or go blind watching countless commercials which... indirectly your paying for when you go and purchase a $1 pizza delivered by a third world driver who is sending money to some organization overseas to make you pay for your gluttony. Terribly redundant.

At 3/15/2009 2:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As Mike Tomlin said, most coaches in the nfl got where they are b/c they weren't good enough to play at that level, but they loved the game so much they didn't want to give it up. Coaching ability, like playing ability, takes a whole lot of practice to develop.

The list of NFL players that transition to NFL head coaches is not very long. The number of former NFL pro bowlers coaching right now is 2: Singletary and Del Rio. Why is that? I think football is different in that it is much more organizational than other professional sports. BAsically, the skills it takes to get 50 some players, a dozen or more coaches, and all the support staff on the same page, are a lot different than the skills of an NFL player.

So why isn't there more black coaches? Obviously the NFL has had it's struggles with racism/classism. However, I think this may be less an issue of race than is generally thought. I suspect the racial makeup of nfl coaches is probably close to the general population of those who want to be a nfl coach. Or said another way, what happens to all the white college players that don't make the nfl? Actually, speaking of college football, if you want to talk racism - take a look at NCAA head coaching..


Post a Comment

<< Home