We certainly stepped in it on our sister station yesterday. The morning show host mentioned a tidbit on the air about how the average American man is 5'9" tall. He remarked that he was surprised that the average is that "short" and he wondered why it has stagnated over the past few decades. I pointed out that America's racial diversity is actually the reason that our height numbers aren't growing like other countries--as a the percentage of the population from European descent is declines and non-European ancestry increases.
Not surprisingly, several calls came in from listeners angry that we would suggest that non-European-descent immigrants are shorter than those of us with European heritage. The term "stereotype" was tossed around a few times as was "there are tall Hispanics (or Asians) too, you know". The morning show host fumbled through a pseudo-apology but I offered no such concession. Instead, I listed the tallest average nations in the world--as compiled by the World Health Organization:
1--Netherlands (where men are an average of six-feet tall)
What can we deduce from that list? That the US is the most racially-diverse out of all of them? That taller nations tend to be in Europe with very homogenous populations?
Being just a shade over 6'2", I enjoy being tall. Because I've been involved in sports my whole life, most of my friends are tall too. But there are advantages to being short as well. You should have seen me trying to get through the doorways and hatches of the Martin Mars aircraft during EAA or trying to fit into seats at Wrigley Field--both of which were built at a time when the average American man was about 5'6".
Besides, when someone is defensive about their stature and acts like they are all big and tough we say they have a "Napoleon Complex"--and he was a tiny little French guy.