MLB's African American Problem? (cont'd)

I'd agree that the diminishing number of black major leaguers was a major problem if some emerging socioeconomic injustice were suddenly keeping them out of baseball. I don't think this is the case. No doubt, poverty plays a role, but the African American population has always struggled with poverty. Besides, poverty needs to be addressed for it's own sake, not for baseball's sake.

In my opinion, a huge part of the equation is that an increasing number of black kids (like American kids in general) simply aren't interested in playing baseball. Here's an personal example: for two years in the mid-90s, I coached baseball at an inner city SF high school where African American kids made up probably 30-40% of the student body. Both the frosh-soph and varsity teams had multiple coaches and adequately maintained playing fields for practices and games. Several black kids played on each of these teams, but the interest in baseball (from both blacks and other kids) was low enough that we had to fill out the roster with, among others, an immigrant kid who initially wasn't sure how to wear a glove or where to run after hitting the ball.

I'd love to see more black kids playing baseball, just as I'd like to see more American kids of all races playing baseball. Baseball is a great game and it just might be the remedy for serial text messaging and Play Station addiction, not to mention hanging out with the wrong crowd. But singling out a "black problem" in MLB worthy of a special "fix" smacks of social engineering run amok.

1 comment: