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Why the Decline of African Americans in Baseball: Part 2

By Manuel Trigueros
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One of the problems to finding a solution is to determine what the causes to the problem are. The SPELIT ASSESSMENT is a model that helps with determining the problems by understanding what the driving forces behind the issue are. The following section will include the model’s assessment as to why economic means is the driving force that is causing low African-American participation. After the assessment demonstrates what the problems are, I will propose my solutions to the three playing levels in order to create a pathway to the MLB.

Using the SPELIT ASSESSMENT the research is able to dig deeper and find variables that contribute to the decline of baseball players who are African-Americans. In the economics of sports, baseball has many obstacles that create challenges for kids that wish to pursue the game at the next level. According to the baseball section of Scholarshipstats.com (2014), Division 1 baseball schools are only allowed to distribute 11.7 scholarships to the team each year. The scholarship number also decreases in D2 and D3 schools to 9 and 0 scholarships respectively. Although D3 schools are not able to provide scholarships, they do have the ability to create financial aid packages that rival athletic scholarships In an interview with Tyler Kepner (2014), New York Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia talked about the distribution of scholarships between sports, “How are you going to tell a kid from the hood that I can give you a 15-percent scholarship to go play baseball, or a full ride to go to Florida State for football?”

From the statement above, the assumption could be made that the amount of money that is invested into the sports plays a vital role in scholarship distribution. The total revenue that sports create for the schools and the NCAA leads to the conclusion that baseball is not a great revenue generating sport thus the limited scholarships. The revenue between baseball and football cannot be compared because the size of the gap is too large. According to Jessop (2012), the University of Arizona saw an increase of ticket revenue to $350,000 following their College World Series victory in 2012.  On the other hand Gaines’ (2012) report finds that University of Texas’ football program generated more than $95 million the 2011 season, the most of any college football program. The revenues came largely from broadcast rights, ticket sales and merchandising. Scholarship distribution seems to be dependent on revenue generated by the sports which leads to African-Americans choosing football over baseball.

Although Sabathia ultimately selected baseball, he later goes on to say in the interview that if he were not chosen in the first round of the draft, he would have gone to play football because he had a full ride. (Kepner 2014) In order to increase participation the NCAA needs to eliminate a tuition cost for players who are going to play baseball. The argument could be made as to why only baseball and not other sports like track or swimming. The answer to that question is that the sport is organized professionally by a billion dollar corporation who can aid and even subsidize the tuition fees for its future players. Under my proposal NCAA baseball can compete with other collegiate sports who offer more scholarships by pursing MLB to contribute with the costs. By increasing the current baseball scholarship quotas, it creates incentives for high school baseball prospects to not abandon the game. Going back to Sabathia, it eliminates decisions and scenarios in which the player will not choose baseball because of economic opportunities.

The love for baseball starts at the youth levels and travel ball is on the rise, as Mendell (2014) reports, “participation fees average about $2,000 per player per year. And teams may invite players from anywhere in the region.” Willing to pay that amount of money demonstrates that financially there is not a problem for some families. Those players who join travel teams seek the rewards that come with it. Keown’s (2013) article found the following:

“the ones with the personal hitting or pitching coaches. They are the ones who enter high school, usually a wealthy suburban high school, with the buzz that makes coaches take notice. They’re the ones who are seen by scouts at the $500-a-day Perfect Game showcases attended by more scouts than have seen an Oakland public high school baseball game in the past 10 years combined.”

So the end result of investing that money means that the travel ball participant is in a better position to further his playing career. The kids who do not enroll in travel ball do not receive the perks of publicizing their talents to the baseball community but they should not have to pay to go the extra mile. In an article for the Washington Post, Plumer (2013) found that African Americans may not have the funds because of financial situations “In 2011, 27.6 percent of black households were in poverty — nearly triple the poverty rate for whites.” (Section 5) Economic means is illustrating to be the defining factor and the MLB has the means and resources to change that. The next part of this series will add on the content and elaborate more on what is being said.

Missed the beginning? You can find it here PART 1

Sources:

Gaines, C. (2012, January 4). These 20 Programs Are The Biggest Money Makers In College Sports.

Kepner, T. (2014, April 9). M.L.B. Report Highlights Sobering Number of Black Players.

Keown, T. (2013, April 13). What The MLB Committee Will Find.

Mendell, D. (2014, May 23). Stealing home: How Travel Teams Are Eroding Community Baseball.

Plumer, B. (2013, August 13). These Ten Charts Show The Black-White Economic Gap Hasn’t Budged In 50 Years.

Scholarshipstats.com

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