Monday, April 19, 2004

Are fewer blacks turning to baseball?
The NY Times has a story in today's paper about how the numbers of black players in MLB has decreased from 19 percent in 1995 to 9 percent last season. This season 24 percent of players are Latino. One reason given for the decline is that black athletes experience more immediate gratification in other sports like basketball, where high school phenoms can go straight to the NBA without having to toil in the minor leagues making llittle money while they hone their skills.

Another reason baseball may be less popular with black athletes is because programs like RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) haven't received the attention they once did in the 1990s. Baseball could also be suffering from what soccer in this country has experienced since it's inception -- losing athletes to other, more glamorous sports.

Of course, it could simply be the case that the demographics of this country are ever-changing and MLB reflects those changes. As of the last census, Latinos accounted for 13 percent of the population and blacks made up roughly 12 percent. As it stands, there are a few more Latinos in baseball than the national average, but black representation in baseball mirrors the national average. Does that mean there isn't a problem? Not neccesarily, but I guess it depends on who you ask. Asians are sorely underrepresented in professional sports (but oddly enough, not in baseball), but there doesn't seem to be a big push to get more Asians on NFL rosters.