India Wins An Olympic Gold Medal
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An Indian won a gold medal in one of those shooting events that nobody cares about (unless he is a pistol shooter who has his right hand blown off by a hand grenade, so he trains himself to shoot left handed and comes back to win two gold medals, then it's pretty cool), causing the billion people of India to notice, hey, there's an Olympics going on!

Why are Indians so underrepresented in sports?

In 2000, I wrote in

Once again, however, the biggest loser in the Olympics was India. For the second straight Games, its one billion people brought home - a single bronze medal.

Indians just don't seem to care about any sports besides cricket. Even in field hockey, a game they ruled through the middle of the 20th Century, they stunk up the place again.

Perhaps Indians are just too cheerful, friendly, and polite to care much about winning at sports. Interestingly, their few sportsmen tend to come from the traditional warrior racial groups like the Sikhs. The British recognized that the Sikhs, along with the East Asian Gurkhas of Nepal, made the finest fighting men in South Asia. Sikhs remain the backbone of independent India's officer corps. Similarly, guys named Singh (i.e. Sikhs) hold about half of India's national track records.

It's long been theorized that militaristic nations should be best at sports, since sport is fundamentally training for and recreation from fighting and hunting. This correlation, however, has proved hard to test since practically every nation on Earth has a pugnacious history. Ancient nations that didn't like war tended to be put to the sword.

The most obvious exceptions: the peoples of India, who have repeatedly been the passive victims of invaders. So perhaps there is something to this old saw after all.

India is a poor country overall, but out of over a billion people, there are at least as many with Australian levels of income as there are Australians, yet the 17 million Australians win one to two orders of magnitude more medals.

Also, most countries allow their overseas diasporas to compete for the ancestral country (e.g., the American born center of the LA Clippers isn't good enough to make the American basketball team, so he's playing for Germany, where his grandparents came from). There are several million prosperous Indians all over the world who could compete for India if they aren't good enough to make, say, the US team.

One member of the 2008 bronze-medal winning US men's gymnastic team is South Asian.

In general, my impression from reading the local sports section's coverage of Southern California high school sports, though, is that South Asians raised in America aren't making much of a splash in youth sports.

They kick ass in the National Spelling Bee, however!

By the way, the only golfer in the world in this decade to knock Tiger Woods off the #1 ranking was Vijay Singh in 2004-2005. Singh is an ethnic Indian (Sikh) from Fiji. He's won more PGA tournaments since he turned 40 than Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer did combined.

Singh is also, by far, the darkest-skinned player on the PGA Tour (much darker than Tiger), yet you almost never ever hear about him in the American press as "breaking racial boundaries," "subverting stereotypes," or otherwise bringing the blessings of diversity to white-bread golf. That just goes to show that race isn't, actually, about skin color, it's about ancestry. And it also shows that Americans aren't interested in race in general, they're just obsessed with black-white questions.

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