Review: Darwin’s Athletes

Darwin’s Athletes:  How Sport Has Damaged Black America and Preserved the Myth of Race
John Hoberman

Painfully Important

I was drawn to this book because I’ve felt for a long time that Blacks, despite the handful of highly-paid professionals, were being exploited in modern sports.  I had to table my critique of those Black athletes who made it as professionals.  How dare I refer to them as “40 million dollar slaves1  when I, myself, was merely a 40 thousand dollar slave?   Indeed,  I have been exploited in the corporate arena only at an exponentially lower compensation package.   I had concerns that were deeper than financial freedom.

Despite our dominance for decades, the power was still concentrated in the hands of the white male.  The subliminal colonial imagery remains a splinter in my mind.

Furthermore, it bothered me that the arenas of sporting events were filled whites, the same whites that would cross the street if some of the same players on the field, sans uniform, were coming towards them; the same whites that would vandalize your home while wearing a Westbrook2 jersey should you dare to move into their neighborhood.

Finally, I was interested in finding out more about the consequences of the “Hoop Dreams” of many of our Black youth.

Hoberman’s thesis is controversial and painfully important.  He attempts to addresses my concerns as well as many other racial dimensions of the modern sports world. The book is strongly argued and excellent researched.

You may never look at sports the same way again.


1 – refers to title of  ‘Rhoden’s book, 40 Million Dollar Slaves.

2- Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles


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