Sporting Dominance is a NUMBER GAME?
New Yorker staff writer(also the bestselling author of "the tipping point" and "Blink") Malcolm Gladwell presented his latest post ,regarding the Running dominance of Kenya middle-and-long-distance runners.He came up with a NUMBER GAME theory to explain the oddity of why Kenya produces far more than its fair share of world-class runners in the world.
"We've always known that running is culturally important in Kenya, in a way it isn't anywhere else in the world. But these are staggering numbers. A million 10 to 17 year olds running 10 to 12 miles a day? I'm guessing the United States doesn't have more than 5,000 or so boys in that age bracket logging that kind of mileage. 70 miles a week is an enormous amount of running--even for an adult. I ran middle distance at a nationally competitive level as a teenager, and never got close to 70 miles a week.
I know this isn't going to put the genetic argument about Kenyan running dominance to rest. But maybe it should. It's a far more parsimonious explanation. No one ever claims that Canadians are genetically superior to everyone else when it comes to hockey, or that Dominicans have a genetic advantage when it comes to baseball. We all accept the fact that those two countries succeed at those sports because they draw their elite talent from a developmental pool that is simply larger--in relative and in some cases absolute terms--that other nations. Its a numbers game. If Kenya really has a million kids, doing that kind of mileage, then we scarcely need any other explanation for their success.
Here's the appropriate thought experiment. Imagine that every year 50 percent of all American 10 year old boys were shipped to Boulder Colorado, where they ran 50 to 70 miles a week at altitude for the next seven years. Would the United States regain control of international middle and long distance running? "
I THINK DIFFERENTLY,because I can readily rebuke the theory.I wrote the following in the comments section of his blog(located at www.gladwell.com )