C.C. Sabathia, starting pitcher for the Cleveland Indians, has highlighted a sad reality of today’s baseball demographics – "there aren’t many African-American players" (story at ESPN here). Just years after retiring Jackie Robinson’s number throughout Major League Baseball, celebrating one of the seminal strides in the civil rights movement, fewer and fewer African-Americans are playing baseball or even count themselves among the game’s fans.
I agree with Sabathia that this constitutes a crisis. It is important that our nation’s major institutions – and yes, I count Major League Baseball as a major institution in American culture – and particularly those that have endured for as long as baseball, reflect the diversity of our nation. We cannot simply shrug our shoulders and offer a resigned, "oh well" as baseball becomes increasingly irrelevant to Black America. Sport, and particularly baseball with its unique history and role in the civil rights movement, demands our efforts to make it an inclusive and culturally dynamic venture in which athleticism and skill, not skin color or culture, are determinative.
One thought on “Black and Baseball”
Well, this is a reflection on the current culture. I can’t see how whites could change it.
Having worked with my son’s baseball team for 7 years, I became aware that baseball just wasn’t the national pastime it had been.
One big change in our area is that the thriving softball leagues of 25 – 30 years ago are gone. If the adults aren’t into baseball/softball, the kids aren’t exposed to it. When the high school games are played here, they are often ignored by the press and the other high school kids.
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