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In this news program, Tom Brokaw explores the controversial subject of the way professional athletes seem to be predominantly black. This program includes interviews and comments from many professional athletes and others, including: sprinter Carl Lewis; Stanford University track coach Brooks Johnson; professional basketball players Dominique Wilkins, Spud Webb, and Julius Erving; scientists Dr. Claude Bouchard, Dr. Robert Malina, and Dr. Gideon Ariel; Professor Harry Edwards; high school basketball star Phillip Crump; Kenyan long-distance runner Kipchoge Keino; professional baseball player Mike Schmidt; and tennis legend Arthur Ashe. Topics covered include the following, among others: the reason that blacks appear to be better and faster sprinters then most whites; whether black athletes tend to have a physical advantage in sports; possible biological differences between black and white people; whether the racial differences are a legitimate excuse for comparisons and studies; whether the term "white man's disease" is true in basketball; differences in the jumping techniques of black and white basketball players; the way white athletes tend to excel at power movements and sports that require the use of specific muscles; the way these issues create tremendous racial stereotypes in sports; the dreams of every young black basketball player living in the inner cities; the way a prominent race in an inner city often garners attention in a particular sport; the way athletes who leave inner cities are role models for kids trying to do the same; students' notions of basketball as a means toward a college education while they nurse dreams of playing professionally; the running craze that began in Kenya; the way African runners tend to be stronger in long-distance races than in sprints; college coaches' visits to Kenya to recruit runners for their teams; the way white athletes' have become the butt of jokes regarding their ability; the controversial application of the term "natural athlete" to blacks; black atheletes who pioneered new progress against racism in certain sports; and prejudices toward black athletes who later want to become executives. Following this portion of the program, Brokaw leads a panel discussion with Dr. Richard Lapchick, as well as Edwards, Ashe, Malina, and Bouchard. Topics discussed include: the outcome of scientific studies on biological differences between blacks and whites; the extent to which a scientist can be objective; whether the scientific studies are racially biased; blacks who grow up in affluent neighborhoods and have no interest in sports; public benefits from these biological studies; and the studies' serious racial overtones. Commercials deleted.

Cataloging of this program was made possible by The Marc Haas and Helen Hotze Haas Foundation, 1997.


  • DATE: April 25, 1989 Tuesday 10:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:23:05
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: T:14245
  • GENRE: News; Public affairs/Documentaries
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Blacks - Sports; African-American Collection - Sports
  • SERIES RUN: NBC - TV, 1989


  • Paul Greenberg … Executive Producer
  • Jon Entine … Producer, Writer
  • John Bianco … Director
  • Tom Brokaw … Host
  • Dr. Gideon Ariel
  • Arthur Ashe
  • Dr. Claude Bouchard
  • Phillip Crump
  • Dr. Harry Edwards
  • Julius Erving
  • Brooks Johnson
  • Kipchoge Keino
  • Dr. Robert Lapchick
  • Carl Lewis
  • Dr. Robert Malina
  • Mike Schmidt
  • Spud Webb
  • Dominique Wilkins
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