In backgrounding my editorial today on Ken Griffey Jr.’s retirement, I came across an interesting article about the decline of black American players in major league baseball.
It’s written by J.C. Bradbury, an economics professor and author of “The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed.” He discusses several possible reasons, ranging from lack of community support in the way of sports clubs and ballfields to the rising number of out-of-wedlock births among black Americans. Although he doesn’t come out strongly supporting one or another reason, he discounts the notion that black athletes who might otherwise play baseball are turning instead to basketball or football.
… this theory has one big problem, according to the Racial Report Cards for the NFL and NBA, there hasn’t been much change in racial make-up since 1991. In the NBA, African-Americans have typically comprised 75% of the league. In the NFL, African-Americans have comprised 66% of the league.
The competing leagues lack MLB’s trend of declining African-American participation, which indicates that what is affecting baseball’s racial make-up is not affecting the NBA and NFL. More important is the fact that these sports do not appear to be substitutes for baseball. African-American athletes don’t appear to be abandoning baseball for the other major American sports leagues. Some athletes may choose other sports, but those who don’t play football and basketball, choose to do something other than play baseball.
To read the entire article, click here.
USA Today also has an interesting article on the subject. Click here.