Why Do We Love Sports So Much? Its Not Yet Even over, but 2012 Has Been an Excellent Year for Sports Lovers-Especially Black Sports Lovers. the Displays Put on at the London Olympics by Usain Bolt and Mo Farah (above) and All the Other Athletes of African Descent Reawakened the Debate over Whether There Is a Genetic Dimension to Black Prowess in Sports. Cameron Duodu Explores the Issues
Duodu, Cameron, New African
IT IS A TEMPTING ARGUMENT TO suggest that black people are genetically gifted athletes--until one stands it on its head and asks: if blacks are genetically gifted in terms of sports performance, then can whites too claim that they are genetically gifted with regard to inventions and other skills that require a great deal of intelligence? In other words, is it nature or nurture? I think the jury is still out on that one.
And that is OK, because if the argument is not marshalled carefully and with a knowledge of genetics, sociology and psychology, racists could readily hijack it.
What is indisputable is that some weekends in 2012 were absolutely brimming with black pride. For instance, on 7th and 8th July, we had our fill. At the age of 30, Serena Williams defeated Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland to win her fifth Wimbledon Ladies' singles title. This is a woman whose future was supposed to be behind her--if one listened to the female US commentators who believe they have a monopoly over what the game of ladies' tennis is all about.
One reporter joined these ladies in allowing ageism to snake through his brain like a flesh-eating virus. He described Serena as "the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam ... since Czech-turned-American Martina Navratilova some 22 years ago". "Oldest woman"? Who on earth was this clown. Who could possibly look at Serena Williams and describe her with the words "oldest woman"? The woman's angelic, unlined face and looks are the stuff of dreams for many men, doesn't he know?
The day after Serena's victory, it was the turn of "British pride" as Britain, en masse, went on a binge of "Murray-mania". This phenomenon is the worship of tennis player Andy Murray, who had qualified for the Wimbledon Men's Singles Final. Murray was the first Briton to reach the Wimbledon Men's Final since Bunny Austin in 1938. If he won at Wimbledon, he would be the first Briton to win the title in 76 years.
No matter that the opponent Murray was to meet, the Swiss player Roger Federer, had won Wimbledon six times before. Federer had also won a record 17 Grand Slam titles, while Murray had won none at that time. But, while Murray lost, later in the year he took gold in the Olympics final, against Federer, and he was to win the US Grand Slam. But going into the Wimbledon final, Murray's highest achievements had been as runner-up in three Grand Slam finals.
Murray, although a Scot, was regarded as a fellow-national by even the most nationalistic English, despite the differences that surface when the question of nationality arises. Murray, on Wimbledon Finals day, was everyone's darling--that of the English, the Welsh and the Irish, as well as his fellow Scots. All "Britons", mind. Why, the Scots even appeared not to mind sharing him with their neighbours--although they are usually anxious to decouple the rest of Britain from their petroleum resources, their legal system and much else besides. Although Murray lost to Federer 4-6 7-5 6-3 6-4, he gave his countrymen hope for the future.
Indeed, Murray managed to remember to point out, amidst his tearful remarks after his defeat, that Federer was "30 years old"! In other words, he was summoning Murray-mania to run for, at least, another five years. And more. After all, Federer might come back to Wimbledon in 2013. And if he could do that at 31, why not Murray? It was sweet revenge for Murray during the Olympics, when he won on the same ground--Wimbledon--against the same opponent, Roger Federer. You should have been in Britain in the week that followed Murray's victory, and the triumphs of other members of Team GB.
I said the weekend of Wimbledon was a major one for British sports. That is because on the same Sunday as the Wimbledon gladiatorial Men's Final contest, the British Formula One Grand Prix was also taking place.
Now, the British probably love motor sports more than any other nation. …