The holy blood and the holy grail: Myths of scientific racism and the pursuit of excellence in sport

  • Spracklen K
  • 23


    Mendeley users who have this article in their library.
  • 15


    Citations of this article.


Despite the continuing publication of research that suggests there is no scientific basis to race as a biological category, theories of racial difference continue to be invoked within sport to explain the perceived dominance of black athletes. In the case of John Entines controversial Taboo: why black athletes dominate sports and why we are afraid to talk about it or undergraduate textbooks that suggest racial differences in physique may significantly affect athletic performance, scientific racism is normalised in sport. In this article, the relationship between scientific racism and sport will be examined. Qualitative research with current sport scientists is used to investigate the socio-ethical tensions within the subject field of sport science between professionalism, scientism and the demand from external interests to produce results that help people in sport win medals. It will be shown that these tensions, combined with the history of race as a category in sport science, combine to create the discourse of scientific knowledge that reflects, rather than challenges, folk genetics of black athletic physicality.

Author-supplied keywords

  • History of sport
  • Sociology of science
  • Sociology of sport science

Get free article suggestions today

Mendeley saves you time finding and organizing research

Sign up here
Already have an account ?Sign in

Find this document


  • Karl Spracklen

Cite this document

Choose a citation style from the tabs below

Save time finding and organizing research with Mendeley

Sign up for free