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Jewish World Review March 18, 1999 /1 Nissan 5759

Larry Elder

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Black jocks dumb, says judge

(JWR) ---- (
WHEN CHARLES MURRAY appeared on the "Today Show," then co-host Bryant Gumbel practically ripped his head off.

In his controversial book "The Bell Curve," Murray argued that blacks score lower than whites on standardized tests because of their inherently inferior intelligence. Critics called Murray a racist and attacked his findings, research and methodology.

Well, a Philadelphia federal district judge just sided with Murray. Four black athletes sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association, challenging its requirement of a minimum 820 SAT score in order to play college ball.

Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter struck down the minimum test measure, called Proposition 16, stating it "has an unjustified disparate impact against African Americans." What, no "black leader" calling this Bush appointee a bigot?

Let's be blunt. The judge found black student athletes too stupid, too incapable, too oppressed, too disadvantaged to expect minimum performance.

One of the plaintiff's coaches said, "He really tried to improve his SAT scores, but he doesn't test well on big tests. This is a kid that deserves a break." Try telling that to an NBA head coach, "My kid can really play. He just does not play well in big games. But he's a great kid, so sign him." Huh? What about an excuse like this at the police academy? "This cadet is a good one. Oh, he may shoot an innocent citizen in a stressful situation. But, short of that ... "

Emerge, a black magazine, annually publishes the graduation rates for black vs. white college athletes. In February 1996, the magazine looked at graduation rates for black college basketball players. According to the magazine, "Four schools on the list -- the Universities of Iowa, Sam Houston State, San Jose State, and Texas at El Paso -- graduated all of their white male basketball players and none of their blacks."

In October 1996, Emerge looked at the graduation rates for black football players, "For years, the statistics have been disturbing. This year is no different. Black football players on scholarship continue to graduate at a disproportionately lower rate than their white counterparts." The survey covers NCAA Division I-A schools, from 1986 to 1989, during which time the black and white graduation rates were 46 percent and 67 percent, respectively.

But isn't the judge right since for many disadvantaged minorities, sports remains "a way out"?

But the "way out" seldom leads to Madison Square Garden. Sports sociology professor Gary Sailes of Indiana University, according to Emerge, says that "52 percent of blacks playing college basketball think they will make pro," yet only "2.5 percent will play in the NBA for at least one year." Even more damaging to this "sports-as-a-way-out" theory, Sailes found that "83 percent of the 1,500 student-athletes questioned said they study only enough to remain eligible!" (emphasis added).

The Northeastern University Center for the Study of Sport in Society found that, of black teens, 66 percent believe they will ultimately play pro ball, twice the percentage of whites who see themselves becoming pros. More disturbingly, black parents are four times more likely than white parents to believe that their children will become professional athletes.

"Hoop Dreams," the brilliant documentary, followed two talented, black inner-city kids with visions (ultimately unsuccessful) of playing pro basketball. Notably, the kids' parents did not push them academically, but the parents' eyes lit up when they fantasized about their kids suiting up in the NBA.

If, Judge Buckwalter, the SAT discriminates against poor, disadvantaged black students, please answer some questions. Why do poor Asian students outperform middle-class whites on standardized tests? How is math culturally biased, such that American-born, English-speaking kids (who happen to live in the inner city) should not be expected to perform? Why are there high schools where the average SAT score is 1300 in Barbados, a poor, black country with a high percentage of single-parent households?

And if the SAT does not predict academic success, why have University of California kids admitted under "special criteria" (a k a affirmative action) dropped out at much higher rates than students admitted under regular criteria? Of the minority students admitted under "special criteria" from 1983 to 1987, only 7.2 percent graduated in four years, less than 50 percent within six years. During the same period, for "white and other" students admitted under regular criteria, graduation rates in four and six years were 34.1 percent and 77.6 percent, respectively.


For those dancing at the court's decision, understand this. The judge's ruling backs "The Bell Curve's" thesis -- that blacks lack the intelligence to perform on standardized tests.

Wade Williams, a black New York high school coach, worries, "I'm very concerned that kids will think they don't have to do anything. It also exposes kids to unscrupulous coaches who will accept them for their talent, then cast them aside."

Let us now, Coach Williams, pray for our kids. With compassionate adults like Judge Buckwalter, they'll need it.


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©1999, Creators Syndicate