Show Me the Money!!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 officially marked the first day of black history month, which segmented perfectly into this week’s continuation of the MLK Series for the Study of Race with Part Two of the four-part discussion series, “Playing with Fire: Race and Sport in American Culture.” This week, Dr. Richard Pierce, Professor of History at Notre Dame, sat down with Jay Alexander, head coach of the Eastern Michigan University Eagles baseball team; Bill Lewis, former football head coach at Wyoming, East Carolina, and Georgia Tech, and former assistant coach for Miami Dolphins and Notre Dame; and Alan Turner, three-time All-American at Indiana University and current Assistant Coach of Sprints and Hurdles at Notre Dame.
In my blog last week, I made the statement that progress has been made in creating equal opportunities in sports and the degrees of prejudice and discrimination, but there various issues that I still see to this day make me hesitate with the idea that further progress is being made. After listening to the panel of coaches consisting of two African-American and one white representative all seemed to agree with my statement.
Last week, I gave the examples of these prejudices and discriminations where I discussed how Michael Jordan is the only black majority owner in the four major professional sports, disparities in coaching salaries by race, and lastly the gap in graduation rates by race. The coaches touched bases on each of these topics and highlighted many insights that explain the notion behind these subjects. But on the other hand, there was one topic that was discussed by Jay Alexander, which really caught my attention and pretty much explains the overarching decline of blacks in baseball.
The percentage of black major league players is now 8.5 percent, not counting those who are foreign born, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics and Sport. The percentage of African-American players decreased to 8.5 percent of total players on the 2011 Opening Day season rosters. It was 10 percent in the 2010 season. The 2011 percentage was the lowest since 2007 and the third lowest in decades. A lot of things have been blamed for the decline, including baseball trailing basketball and football in popularity, especially among inner-city youth, to the lack of blacks in the sport’s front offices.
According to Alexander, the real reasons behind the decline have more to do with money; particularly focusing on socioeconomic issues in the U.S.
Alexander states, “baseball is not considered a revenue sport in college, as football and basketball are. Full scholarships are very rare for baseball. More often two or three players will share a scholarship.”
Alexander also alluded that it takes a certain amount of economic resources for a baseball player to go to college and whites, on average, have higher incomes than blacks in the U.S. So for a black athlete that needs financial assistance to attend college, it makes more sense to try for a football or basketball scholarship. This is a big reason why college baseball teams have even a lower percentage of black players than does the major league.
“A Division 1 football program can give out 85 scholarships, and baseball teams only 11.7,” said Alexander.
Therefore, if you’re an African American kid and you need help to go to school, do the math!
Talk about equal opportunity…..yeah right!!!!!