Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Next target: Professional curling

Since Jackie Robinson broke into the big leagues more than 60 years ago, baseball has been open to players of all races. It took some teams a few more years to begin adding players of color to their rosters, but by the 1960s, black players were no longer an anomaly in the game. Many of the greats of the game in the '60s, '70s and beyond were black. Frank Robinson. Ernie Banks. Henry Aaron. Willie Mays. The list goes on and on. Today, we find fewer black players in baseball (but many more Latin players), and at a recent roundtable discussion held in conjunction with the National Civil Rights Game in Memphis, folks such as Hank Aaron and Martin Luther King III said something needs to be done to reverse that trend. Said King, according to the Associated Press, "Somehow we must find better ways to bring young people, particularly black Americans, into the sport of baseball." My response to this is ... What?!?!? I'm not sure if Aaron and King are aware of this, but there is no rejuvenated Jim Crow system attempting to keep blacks out of baseball. Though there may be socioeconomic factors involved in some cases (i.e., cost of equipment), for the most part, black youngsters, themselves, are choosing not to play baseball. They have drifted to football and basketball, two sports, it can argued, they now dominate. I'm not even going to attempt to analyze why black athletes are no longer greatly attracted to baseball. It's so low on the scale of importance as to not be worth our pondering. Chicago White Sox general manager Ken Williams, who is black, had a much more thoughtful take on the so-called issue. Said Williams, "I'm less concerned about young, inner-city, African-American kids playing baseball than I am about the murder rate or the lack of high school diplomas." Well said. Convening a roundtable discussion on the declining percentage of black athletes in pro baseball is on a par with investigating why there are so few Asians in professional calf roping. Maybe it just doesn't appeal to them.



Blogger Roger said...

I'm with Ken Williams on putting the focus where it should be: education and crime. A report today showed that many larger cities now have high school graduation rates of nearly 25%. That is one in four students in the inner-city high schools that are graduating! The national overall average is deplorable enough, but to learn of the horrible graduation rates in these high schools is pathetic. Also, I learned that every year, more than 8,000 young black folks are being murdered in the US. That is over twice as many casualties in the five years the US has been in Iraq, every year.

Some of these matters are not unlike the drunken driving issue I commented on a day or so ago. We have reached tolerance levels, and now it is "ho-hum" in the public square. But, the response is again not one that anybody can fix, except individuals. Those who choose to populate the neighborhoods with more children, but are unwilling, or unable, to be parents are the ones that need to step to the plate on this matter. Parent is not only a noun, but also a verb. The problem neighborhoods need to have more folks consider parent as a verb, being proactive in raising their children in two-parent households.

April 1, 2008 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger Amanda Gillooly said...

I went to college with a lot of black athletes with full scholarships for basketball. There was not one black player on our college baseball team, much less one who was awarded a full scholarship at a school where sports weren't paramount. Tis interesting how much money can play in these decisions, like it or not.

April 1, 2008 at 8:05 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I have a slightly different take on this issue. I hesitate to bring the "R" word into the equation, but consider this: statements like King III's and Hank Aaron's (that surprised me) are exactly why racism will never end.

There is much hand-wringing and whining about having an "open and honest dialog" when it comes to race, but honestly, how can this come to be? Here are two prominent black Americans, each having an important legacy when it comes to race, and all they can draw on as a reason for the decline in interest in baseball is the fact that someone is keeping black kids out of the game, as if to suggest that Whitey has some covert plan to make white players dominate the game again.

I didn't see the article Brant mentions, but I'm curious...was there anything said about the domination of Latino players in the game?

It used to be that playing sports was where everyone got along because of the fun of the game. As kids, I don't remember singling out black players for this position or Latino players for that, or even fat white players (my group) for another position. We just played.

I find Mr. King's comments incendiary and inappropriate. And as usual, don't we have more to worry about in this country? We have third grade kids plotting to attack a teacher. Big city high school graduation rates are at an all-time low. But someone wants us to focus attention on something as ludicrous as this? I agree with Brant...LACK OF INTEREST. And Roger, bringing the parent element into the discussion is important too. Thanks for letting me rant while you stated an opinion I share with you.

April 2, 2008 at 6:33 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

Roger and Priguy have both raised the issue of parenting. It's a very touchy subject when speaking of the black community, but I think one fact - not opinion, mind you, but fact - speaks volumes. The last figures I saw indicated that the black illegitimacy rate was about 67 percent. That means two out of every three black children were born to unmarried mothers. Now, obviously, in some of those cases, the fathers are in the picture, taking an active role in the lives of their children. But in many cases, they are not. I have to admit a secret addiction to the Maury Povich shows in which Maury employs DNA testing to help women find the fathers of their children. Some of these women end up testing 10 guys while trying to find the father. This is a problem. We have young men - black, Hispanic and white - who go around spreading their "seed" as if they're human salad shooters. And we obviously have a lot of young women who are willing to drop their drawers for any Tom, Dick or Harry, with no commitment in the relationship. And, frankly, they are creating a social and economic burden on those of us who take responsibility for our actions and our reproductive parts. Ken Williams, the general manager of the White Sox whom I quoted in the original posting, also cited the need for changes in black society, pointing out that a significant percentage of black men in the prime child-creating age group are incarcerated and not guiding their kids. Several years ago, Bill Cosby raised issues such as these, calling on the black community to clean up its act, and he was verbally beaten down by some so-called black leaders who painted him as a heretic. There are no easy answers, but it would be a good start if people who are not committed to one another, and have no intention of making a commitment, keep their trousers on.

April 2, 2008 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Tracy J. said...

Brant once again you said it all. People in general black, white or whatever need to put marriage and commitment into the forfront before they star reporducing. I am appalled everytime I read the birth announcement and see the number of unmarried couples. I was raised with different morals, you got married first then had kids. Have two parents is extremely important. I also think that should be some sort of aptitude test for people to take before they can have children. That was those that can't or won''t be decent parents are weeded out. There are just too many people having kids that do not want to teach them manners, morals or anything else for that matter.

April 2, 2008 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

Traci -- right on with regard to the worthiness of a structured family unit. The effects have long-reaching arms, from education to crime, and neighborhood stability.

Brant, I have heard the statistics of nearly 80% of births in these communities to be illegitimate. But, your number of 67 is enough to demonstrate a major problem. I have posted this kind of stuff in reader response forums elsewhere recently, and I get big flack. Two issues are raised: (1) What about single parents, and they cannot be targeted as a problem, and (2) The alternative family (e.g. homosexual) can be just as effective in raising children as traditional father-mother households. To point (2), this is a red-herring in the argument, and an attempt to deflect the discussion into territories that have another agenda.

But, to point (1), there are two parties involved with a child, a father and a mother. If a single-parent household situation exists, then one party has opted out. Yes, I will quickly acknowledge that death, or similar cause may leave a household as a single-parent one. But, for reasons of divorce, unfaithfulness, "irreconcilable differences" (whatever that means), etc. are a cover against being the responsible party who chose to bring a child into the world. Yes, "... chose to bring ...," and is not "... just something that happened," as is often stated. Young males who make themselves out to be stud service are in large part the irresponsible party.

Oh yes, I am back to an advocate of personal responsibility. Out of shirking the responsibility comes chaos in the family unit. And, out of that chaos comes poor academic performance and the setting of life goals, and from that springs crime. The nurturing of children in a responsible home setting gets easily overlooked, with the overarching solution of some "external" help. In some cases, children emerge from these settings and do well. But, in most cases, this is not the case. Likewise, just because a great family setting is provided does not mean a successful, crime-free life either. However, the overwhelming statistics favor the father-mother environment for raising children.

I could venture off into the spiritual component of family life here, but will not do so. I consider this element to be very important, but many others do not, and I don't want to derail the discussion too badly.

My point is that a vicious cycle is most likely established when good parenting skills are missing. We need no blue-ribbon panel, not hearings, no committees to investigate. Often, there seems to be a perceived virtue in discussions, the only virtue. For some circles, the best thing that can happen is for nothing to be done or changed, lest the discussions cease. Also, for these folks, the worst thing that could happen is that a remedy be established and acted upon, with progress made. This might eliminate the need for further discussions.

April 3, 2008 at 9:20 AM  

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