Black Americans and Baseball
If baseball wasn't so racist and expensive it could find a huge opportunity in football's concussion crisis.
A big if, I know. But think about it.
Enrolment in youth and high school football is declining in jurisdictions across the US, and not just out-of-the-way school districts where the sport was never a big deal anyway. Several high schools in Chicago have recently dumped varsity football and among them is Whitney Young, alma mater of former Dallas Cowboy and three-time Super Bowl champ Russell Maryland. So we're talking big schools with big talent taking a pass on football.
If that trend continues we'll have a ton of talented athletes looking for an outlet.
And if travel baseball were more affordable, and if the sport offered more full college scholarships, we'd have a lot more of what baseball needs to attract a younger and more diverse fan base.
More Byron Buxtons.
More Billy Hamiltons.
More Mallex Smiths.
More spectacular catches.
Way more fun.
But when the locus of elite teenage baseball shifted from high school teams, which cost players very little, to travel clubs, which cost a ton, African-American players became collateral damage. And if you're looking for the cause of the 30-year slow leak of U.S.-born black players from MLB, that's your culprit.
Factor in MLB culture's obsession with policing black and brown players' behaviour -- DON'T YOU DARE FLIP YOUR BAT...unless you're Brett Boone or some other gritty, demelanated grit-and-hustle guy -- and you've given a lot of talented players two very good reasons to choose another sport.
Which is a shame. The more we learn about the hazards football poses to your health, the more we should recognize the opportunity staring baseball in the face.
Problem is, a lot of parents can't afford to help baseball help itself.
Morgan Campbell writes about where culture, sports and business intersect. He writes about all sports, but particularly baseball, football and boxing. He was a regular guest on CBC Radio sports roundtable that used to be a feature on Q.*
The other thing you need to know about Morgan Campbell is that he is the shit.
He and I have had many discussions about black kids not playing baseball, how football dominates every sporting conversation in the US, even though it's toxic and all kinds of problematic. (Don't believe me? Just watch.) How baseball can't get out of it's own way. How it's so obsessed with the "right way", it's playing itself into irrelevance.
What does something like this mean?
Mr. Campbell probably has some thoughts about it.
He's on Twitter here.
*The dumbest thing ever when they stopped doing that segment to focus on "culture". What is more culturally relevant right now than NFL players kneeling and getting called out by the leader of the Free World on Twitter? I mean, really.