A few days ago, the (London) Daily Mail published an article that began:
Olympic legend Michael Johnson says a ‘superior athletic gene’ in the descendants of West African slaves means black American and Caribbean sprinters will command the sport at the London Games.
The Olympic gold medallist and BBC commentator said: ‘Over the last few years, athletes of Afro- Caribbean and Afro-American descent have dominated athletics finals.
‘It’s a fact that hasn’t been discussed openly before. It’s a taboo subject in the States but it is what it is. Why shouldn’t we discuss it?’
If you’re American, you will probably be puzzled by (the American) Johnson’s comment that certain people “have dominated athletics finals.” In the U.S., athletics is an all-purpose term, pretty much a fancier and more formal version of sports (sport to you). In the U.K., however, athletics is used as Johnson was quoted as using it: to refer to track, that is, running, events.
I said that Johnson was “quoted as” saying athletics. I bet that he did not actually say it, but rather that the Daily Mail–not known for its journalistic scruples–doctored the quote to make it understandable to readers. Anyone think otherwise?