Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Ethnic Differences in Achievement in Darts

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Ethnic Differences in Achievement in Darts

Article excerpt

There is considerable evidence for racial differences in success in a variety of sports, including short- and long-distance running, American football, baseball and swimming (Entine, 2000; Epstein, 2013; Irving and Charlton, 2010; Sailes, 1998). It has been argued that though culture plays a part in explaining these differences, these differences are significantly genetic because races tend to succeed in the sports which require the physical characteristics which different races possess (Epstein, 2013), sporting success is highly genetic (De Moor et al., 2007), and physical abilities, more broadly than sport, are also significantly genetic. For example, variation in lean body mass has been found to be 50% genetic (Arden and Spector, 1997) while forearm perimeter is around 68% genetic (Loos et al., 1997). This argument has been strengthened by evidence showing that racial differences in sporting ability exist at very young ages (Entine, 2000). An alternative argument has been that racial differences in success in different sports are attributable to sociological factors including racial discrimination, something which has been examined in relation to many sports (e.g. Carrington and McDonald, 2002; Joseph et al., 2012; Ross, 2005).

Hitherto, there has been no study examining the abilities required for success in darts, racial differences in success in darts, and the degree to which these may be attributable to genetic differences. This is the objective of the present study.1 We will begin by establishing racial differences in body type and psychology as they relate to sport. We will then look at the specific abilities that predict darting success. Having established this, it will be shown that leading male darts players are overwhelmingly European, mainly British and that all of the British players are ethnically European. We will then discuss anomalies and sociological explanations and demonstrate that they can be explained in genetic terms or do not explain the data. Thus, we will argue that the most persuasive hypothesis is a partly-genetic one. Finally, we will examine the implications of the research and directions for future research.

1. Race Differences in Somatotypes and Other Characteristics

We will now examine racial differences in somatotype (body shape and composition) and other issues relevant to darting ability. Somatotypes are to a significant degree genetically determined, both at an individual and group level (Bouchard et al., 1997), and race differences in somatotype are present even in infants (Malina, 1969). The somatotypes are:

1. Endomorph (Fat). A rounded body shape (stocky, relatively short), characterized by relatively short limbs, large trunk, fat in the abdominal and lower body region, short neck, narrow shoulders, large chest, wide hips and poorly developed muscles but muscle strength is gained easily.

2. Ectomorph (Slim). Tall, thin, linear body, long extremities, short upper body, narrow chest and shoulders, very lightly muscled.

3. Mesomorph (Muscular). Large head, muscular chest, narrow waist, large shoulders, large heart, heavily muscled arms and legs, minimal body fat, short trunk and long limbs.

Somatotypes are described on a scale of 1 (low) to 7 (high). The principal racial body somatotype and other physiological characteristics relevant to sporting ability are now described.

1. West Africans. This is the most mesomorphic of the races, with long limbs, short torso, heavy skeleton, a well-muscled bodyand very little body fat.West Africans have around 75% fast twitch muscle fibers compared with around 25% in East Africans(Hochachka, 1998). This aids bursts of speed and power but has the effect that West Africans have low endurance. Blacks from the West Indies are principally of West African origin, with varying small amounts of European admixture (Epstein, 2013).

Both male and female West Africans have been found to have a more mesomorphic body type than have other races, when comparing with those of the same sex and based on representative samples. …

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