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February 23, 2005



Nitpick of the day: I think it's a mistake to say Baseball is "dominated" by African-Americans in any meaningful sense of the word. They're a greater portion of the MLBPA than they are of the general population, but not by a whole lot, I don't think. Furthermore, the portion of African-Americans has been in decline for a couple of decades now.

Of course, your point still holds because between Latinos, African-americans, and Asian ballplayers, baseball is majority non-white American (I think...)

Personally, watching NASCAR is where I feel my "blue cultural identity" most acutely (well, that and Almodovar films). Zipping around in circles for hours....I just don't get it. And my aversion to violence kicks in on the crashes--I instinctively look away.


Well, of course many of the "Latin" players (Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, etc.) in baseball are also of African heritage -- but you're right, not African-AMERICAN in the usual sense.


What, blacks and Latinos aren't counted as red-state Americans?


There are other factors at play: most major-league baseball and basketball teams are in blue states, and almost all in major cities. Sure, smaller cities (for instance, Knoxville, TN) have minor league teams, but still. Meanwhile, NASCAR has speedways in more rural areas--Bristol TN/VA, etc.

However, I wouldn't classify ultramarathoning and cycling as middle-class--they're more what I'd call upper-middle-class, or bourgeois.

Ralph Luker

Hail Hugo, I bring you glad tidings from Cliopatria. I don't know whether it is NASCAR or California, but drag racing in the South is so desegregated that no one even notices it.

Col Steve

They are perhaps the only "athletes" (I have a hard time considering a racing driver an athlete, though I am confident some level of fitness is necessary) with whom red-state Americans can identify.

Wow- that's quite a generalization Hugo. Do you really mean mainly White, lower-income, less educated, blue-collar, southern men? Don't you think it's problematic to use the blue-state/red state categorization? Didn't the Boston Celtics - in that bluest of blue states - used to be the poster child for keeping a "whitey dominated" team in the NBA?

Or even to compare team centered sports to individual centered ones? Given the era of free agency and salary cap cuts, do folks follow teams or athletes?

I believe that when Tiger Woods plays an event, ratings and attendence go up, especially if he is in contention to win. Unless you're arguing those folks drawn because of Tiger Woods aren't "NASCAR guys."

Maureen - Eliminating Canadian teams, I get almost a 50/50 split for the NBA. MLB is slightly more "blue state" (17-11), but again,that is problematic. Is Sacramento drawing the same ratio of blue/red voters as LA? Is Cleveland representative of Ohio writ large? NASCAR runs races in Long Pond, Pa.; Dover, Del.; Loudon, N.H., and Watkins Glen, N.Y - perhaps it's only the Red voters in those states who show up though?

According to ESPN, about 9% of NASCAR fans are African-Americans - must be the same 9% who were confused and voted for President Bush.

Another factor is that NASCAR depends on sponsors - and sponsors demand an audience to market their products. MLB and the NBA live more off TV revenues (probably the NFL too but I think they do a better job at fan appeal) and thus tend to put less into the fan experience. I've never been to a NASCAR event (can't figure out the point myself, but then I don't watch tennis or golf unless it's near the end of a competitive grand slam tournament), but friends who have claim the organizers do a far better job at making it an experience compared to MLB or NBA events. Given the competition for scarce entertainment dollars, the popularity may also be a result of a better overall experience, especially when most individual regular season MLB/NBA have less importance (note NASCAR changed its rules to make the last 10 or so races more competitive for the overall championship).

Why must it be only about wanting "heroes" - what's the metric you're using for that claim? Horse racing is a popular spectator sport too - unless folks are going for only the jockeys as well?


I remember watching coverage of a Formula 1 race, and they had a brief superimposition of one of the driver's telemetry, which included his heart rate.

During the entire minute it was on screen, his pulse rate never dropped below 180. They're athletes, no question about it.

Boss Hogg

I can't believe in 2006 you are talking about race in sports. It's so silly. It's not a race thing, it's a local thing. In "ghettoes" there are basketball courts so what do they excell at. Hmmm basketball. In Latin countries thier favorite passtime is baseball or football (soccer). As of late all nationalities and women are getting interested in racing. So you may have to move your racist views over and let everyone in. It's America! Tear down your walls and realize we are all the same. You may not get along with a black guy from the hood because of his experiences but you will get along with someone from middle class. By the world a coke (or beer) and chill out.


Dude 85% of Olympic champions for USA have been white men and women,blacks make only 13% of medalists in all sports (basketball,boxing and track basically,3 out of 45 Olympic sports) Baseball is 74% white including white latinos and NFL highrst paid athletes and 70% of MVP award winners have been white men!
I think you take 1-2 sports like NBA and track and make it sound like it's the whole world of sports when they are not more than just 2 out of tons of professional and olympic sports!
There are 20-1 white sporting heroes to black ones,you must be kidding,the king of sports worldwide, soccer, in the list of 125 best players of all time 101 were of white heirtage,your article failed ;)
Hockey,Baseball,Soccer,Rugby,Lacrosse,winter sports,water sports,extreme sports,cycling,all field events excluding long jump,MMA,wrestling even Boxing after Eastern Europeans were allowed to fight and take over like they did in Olympic Boxing!


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