How many people do elite professions miss? I think we assume that the talent-finding in the top occupations is pretty efficient. But what always strikes me is the amount of evidence in the opposite direction. There are huge numbers of people who clearly could play pro sports, but don’t want to. (Kingston.) And an even greater number who could, but can’t. America has one of the highest incarceration rates in recorded history, for example. (We have six times more people behind bars, on a per capita basis, than Europe does.) That works out to about 2 million people — the majority of whom are young men, and a disproportionate share of those young men are young black men. Surely there must be hundreds — if not thousands — of potential professional athletes in that number…
I’m not a genius like Malcolm Gladwell, and I don’t even know much about sports, but even I know that — whether there are hundreds of “potential professional athletes” in America, or thousands, there are only A LIMITED NUMBER OF PROFESSIONAL TEAMS, WITH A LIMITED NUMBER OF POSITIONS TO FILL.
Just like there are a limited number of acres of land on planet earth, or a limited number of jelly beans that can fit into a mason jar.
Is Malcolm Gladwell proposing that the NFL expand to dozens of additional teams, to accommodate these alleged overlooked players?
Is he blaming the crime rate on… the current size of the NFL? Is he saying that if it weren’t for the stupid owners of the NFL — if only they’d hired him, Malcolm Gladwell, as a high priced consultant! — the gang problem would never have happened?
Gladwell sounds almost… petulant on this freakish point.
And quoting an illiterate black player whose life who was only rescued from a useless life when he was adopted by a white, middle class family to back up your point?