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Toby Gerhart – Disadvantaged White Running Back?

April 21, 2010

There is buzz around Toby Gerhart – the fantastic running back that ended his senior year playing for Stanford University this past season.  Many people believe he should have won the Heisman, the highest honor bestowed on a college football player.   He’s on the books to be drafted into the NFL this week.  In a recent interview, Gerhart had to respond to the rumor out there that he is at a disadvantage because he’s a White running back (of which there are few).  He basically said he didn’t know how to respond.

But a certain scout didn’t mince words:

“He’ll be a great second-round pickup for somebody, but I guarantee you if he was the exact same guy – but he was black – he’d go in the first round for sure,” the scout said. “You could make a case that he’s a Steven Jackson-type – doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s strong and powerful and versatile.”  (

Basically the idea is that it’s hard to know how good Gerhart is because there aren’t other White running backs to use as analogies to his capabilities.  Coaches don’t have a proper metric to measure him by, since you know, White and Black running backs are obviously different.

I’m going to surprise you.  I think that Gerhart WILL have a harder time because he’s White.  Right now most people think that Black athletes are naturally physically superior to Whites and that Whites must work harder to get to the same level.  While this may seem like a “positive” stereotype for Blacks, it’s incredibly dangerous because if a racial group can be “naturally” more physically astute, it doesn’t take long to get to the idea that a racial group can also be “naturally” less intelligent.  Slippery slope my friends.

But this doesn’t negate Gerhart’s problems.  And I think he should be able to say that he’ll suffer because of his race.

And all of my Black friends with MBAs who are having trouble getting jobs even though their White counterparts aren’t should be able to say the exact same thing.  And no one should retort with “Why are you playing the race card?”  Because that’s just ridiculous.

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