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New Left Review 22, July-August 2003


Benjamin Markovits on John Hoberman, Darwin’s Athletes. Paradoxes of African–American success in sport, in a time of growing biological determinism.

BENJAMIN MARKOVITS

THE COLOURS OF SPORT

I used to play basketball in Bavaria with a man born in the Ivory Coast. He had been adopted at the age of four by a white middle-class couple in Munich, both doctors. We fell in with each other naturally as a matter of class—we spoke the same kind of German (hoch) among other things, unlike the Croats, Slavs, Americans, Argentinians and small-town Bavarians who made up the rest of the squad. His schooldays were crazy, he said, on account of his mixed background. He used to get beaten up all the time for being black, except at basketball, where the colour of his skin was hip, and classmates clamoured to play on his team. The part sport played in integrating his school was both concrete and of questionable value.

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