So what about culture? Yes, culture can help to account for why Americans do well at baseball and why the Chinese usually triumph in ping pong. Americans play baseball more than most others, and no one takes ping pong more seriously than the Chinese. But Entine notes that running is universal. In every country, young people run races. "Given the universality of running," Amby Burfoot writes in Runner's World, "it is reasonable to expect that the best runnes should come from a wide range of countries and racial groups." So why are there such enduring and overwhelming racial differences in the outcome?
Entine is not afraid to say that "genetically linked, highly heritable characteristics, such as skeletal structure, muscle fiber types, reflex capabilities, metabolic efficiency, and lung capacity are not evenly distributed among populations." These traits help to explain why groups succeed--and sometimes fail--in certain sports. For instance, the same body type that works so well in the boxing ring and on the track doesn't do so well in the water. How many black swimmers have there been on the U.S. Olympic team? Even countries on the African coast have a terrible record when it comes to swimming medals.
Entine's book is titled "Taboo" because he knows how controversial his thesis is, how fiercely it is hated and resisted. I suspect this is not because of powerful academic evidence that Entine is wrong. If there is such evidence, I would like to see it, but so far I've had a hard time finding it. Rather, the resistance is due to the liberal fear that if we praise black athletic superiority and attribute it to genes, this opens the door for racists to speculate about black intellectual inferiority and to attribute it too to genes.
Yet this is a non-sequitur. Groups can be unequal physically and still be equal intellectually. Men and women are clearly unequal in upper-body strength, for instance, and yet the average IQ for males and females is the same, although the bell curve distribution of that IQ is not.
My general point is that many liberals are looking in the wrong place to find a justification for their support for political equality. As Jefferson noted a long time ago, inequality of endowment, whether it exists or not, is no warrant for inequality of rights. Equality is not a factual proposition, derived from biology. It is a moral proposition, derived from Christianity.