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The African-American Ballplayer Crisis

I'm looking at the results so far from the poll and I'm thinking that maybe this is being phrased incorrectly. I'm in agreement that there aren't sirens going off and warning lights flashing at the decline of black ballplayers in the big leagues, but I also don't think that this isn't something we shouldn't be concerned about. I just think maybe we're not looking at it right.

Look at it this way. The reason baseball is great is because it's the great equalizer. Of all the team sports that we play in America, it's the one that's played pretty much everywhere and it's the one that doesn't rely on you needing to have "something" to make it to the next level except being able to play. If you play basketball, you can get away with not being freakishly tall, but if you are freakishly tall, then you'll get a chance. If you play football, your body type basically determines where you play and even then, plenty of guys who are good at football don't make it because they aren't big enough.

Baseball... Do you necessarily need to be fast? Tall? Short? Strong? Big? No. It's the great equalizer. You just have to be good at baseball. (Incidentally, this is also the reason there's a double standard when it comes to steroids and baseball, but that's for another post)

Now here's where the "crisis" comes in. If baseball is the great equalizer and it's played everywhere in America then it's reasonable to think that the demographics of baseball players should be moving towards the demographics of the population as a whole. If it isn't, then there's something else going on and that's where things get troublesome.

Basically, if what's going on is that young people of different socio-economic groups are getting distinctly different sets of opportunities, then it's a problem. If what's going on is that young people are being conditioned to believe that there are certain sports that they "should" participate in, then there's a problem. If a player picks a sport because they feel that it's more acceptable for a person of their ethnicity or race then it's a problem. All of those are problems because baseball, as I said before, is really the one team sport where you shouldn't have to be "something" to play.

Even if this doesn't make you believe that there's something wrong with the numbers of African-Americans in baseball, I hope that it makes it more understandable why some think there is.

Update [2007-4-19 15:22:11 by Dex]: Dave Stewart touches on this very topic today on his blog.