MLB got an A- grade in diversity hiring from from Richard Lapchick, director of the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports.
This is great news but also ironic at the same time. While the number of Latino players has increased in the majors throughout the past 20 to 30 years, Black participation in the majors has decreased to just 8.2%.
The problem here is that the youth just isn't getting involved in the sport of baseball. With the NBA and NFL flourishing with lots of high profile black stars, the youth is just not participating at the same rates they were in the past. This is really a shame when baseball and Jackie Robinson were the first to break the barriers down regarding sports and race.
I suggest you check it out but I also wanted to touch on this issue a little more myself because it is one that I have had discussions about before. Today just also happens to be Jackie Robinson Day in MLB, so the timing couldn't be any better.
One of the reasons I love the game of baseball is the fact that it includes EVERYONE: White, Black, Latino, & Asian, shoot they even have Native Americans and players with mixed backgrounds to boot. Vibrant stars such as David Wright, BJ Upton, Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki, Joba Chamberlain, and Derek Jeter, each one a different race but bringing their own character to life in the game of baseball. As you can see this is really the only sport that features each race in a prominent role.
The infusion of all the races to the thinking man's game makes for a beautiful sight bringing different cultures together to create a masterful battle of skill and thought. It would be shame if there were no more Black players in baseball at some point and it would take away from the character of the game. I would say the same thing if any other race was diminishing from the sport as well. The greatness of the sport is that it includes all.
MLB has been making strides with their inner city baseball initiatives, so one can only hope that this has a positive impact. I would argue that every athletic kid should play baseball from a young age, along with basketball and football. If that athlete can't make the cut in the sport they prefer to play, basketball or football, then they would already have the foundation they need to succeed in the game of baseball.
A good athlete might not have the superior speed, height, strength, and overall athleticism to compete in the NBA or NFL on a high level but they could still possess the skills to be a great baseball player. Strong, quick wrists and you could have the next Hank Aaron. A powerful arm might not make you able to read defenses as a QB but it could make you the next Bob Gibson.
Look at Cecil Fielder and Tony Gwynn, who both excelled in baseball while being visibly overweight. I doubt either could have excelled in the NFL or NBA with their size and lack of speed . Look at Kenny Lofton, who played basketball in college at Arizona. What if he had stuck with basketball? He would have spent time overseas chasing a dream and lost the chance to be a solid baseball player for all these years.
The fact is that there are still enough star black players in the major leagues to have a presence and make a difference to the youth right now. Torii Hunter and Ryan Howard among others have been involved in the RBI Program, which has done a tremendous job over the years. Even if the program just gets some inner-city kids to college then it has done more than enough for the kids involved.
For the sake of the diversity and willingness to include all that gives baseball it's greatness, let's hope that programs like RBI and today's current players can make a difference.
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