Writing for ESPN.com, Vincent Thomas makes an interesting point: LeBron James may not have won many friends for his decision to leave Cleveland, but black people don't loathe him the way many sports fans do.
"You've probably heard about his plummeting Q rating (the industry standard for measuring an athlete's familiarity and appeal)," Thomas writes. "According to The Q Scores Co., for non-blacks, LeBron's positive Q rating went from 18 percent in January to 10 percent in September and, more telling, his negative Q rating went from 24 percent to 44. Nearly half of the non-blacks in this country don't like the dude. Meanwhile, LeBron's positive Q rating among blacks went from 52 percent in January to 39 -- a noticeable drop -- but his negative Q rating barely budged, going from 14 percent to 15. Among African-Americans, says The Q Scores Co. executive vice president Henry Schafer, the shift in opinion was mostly to neutral."
Thomas attributes this to "black protectionism," the instinct to rally around a prominent black taking incoming fire.
His best sound bite: "I'm sorry, but Brett Favre was nowhere to be found on The Q Scores Co.'s top 10 most disliked list. And, dig this: America dislikes LeBron more than it dislikes Ben Roethlisberger. That's just not deserved. So, you know what? Enter the ride-or-die black community."
Hat tip for the pointer to economist Tyler Cowen's Marginal Revolution blog.