The NFL might have a somewhat diverse player base compared to other major professional leagues in America, but this doesn’t mean that every group is represented equally. As such, while black and white players make up the majority of the NFL, other groups can be underrepresented when exploring the diversity of the league. A 2017 study showed that while 17.3% of the country is Latino, only 2% of NFL players are Latino.
Whether this speaks for interest within the community or a problem in who is given the opportunity.
Bias or chance?
A 2015 article by the Desert Sun posited that at that time, only 1.53% of the NFL was Latino. While these numbers are somewhat larger now, they are still minuscule when they are compared to the national population.
Football remains one of the most popular sports in high school and children’s leagues, and it does not avoid communities with heavily Latino populations.
The Desert Sun article says that while the NFL does publicly support Latino and Hispanic players, the lack of talent on the field that falls into that category must be looked at.
In a perfect world, the smaller demographics of a league may better represent the national number, even if they aren’t spot on. A league that is 70% African American isn’t averse to hiring non-white talent, but the reason behind these discrepancies is worth talking about.
One possible culprit, according to the article, is that schools are not accepting students who are Latino and Hispanic when they are recruiting for their college teams, and in a league that requires players to play in college, this puts the NFL in a tough spot when the talent pool is as good as whatever opportunity the NCAA provides them.
All in all, there is a discrepancy, but does that mean that there aren’t any Hispanic or Latino players?
A page on the NFL’s official website pays tribute to Hispanic players throughout the NFL at the time of publishing. Some of them are very big names, from Victor Cruz to Tony Romo and Mark Sanchez, the names are recognizable from the get-go. The list shows that many players in the league have some Hispanic heritage, although many of the biggest names have since retired.
The NFL cares enough to have a month dedicated to Hispanic Heritage, but it is lacking in the representation of one of the country’s largest minority groups. They can celebrate the heritage all they want, but if the league doesn’t start proactively looking at the diversity in its league past black and white players, they are doing nothing to prevent this problem at a systemic level.
Which current NFL players are Hispanic or Latino?
Information regarding the Hispanic and Latino makeup of the NFL is incredibly hard to find. While we know the percentage of players who identify as Hispanic or Latino when only one in 50 represents the group, it shows how deep the problem runs. Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez makes the list and continues to be a valuable defensive presence for the Green Bay Packers.
Kiko Alonso is also there, although he gets only sporadic minutes for the Miami Dolphins. Alejandro Villanueva is on the Steelers’ roster, but he is yet to play in a single formation this season.
Perhaps the most notable Hispanic player to get any playing time recently was Matt Moore, who covered for Patrick Mahomes while he was injured. Giants guard Will Hernandez is currently playing for the New York Giants.
The NFL does have Hispanic and Latino talent, but it has a long way to go before it can boast about how much. While some clinics and events show appreciation, the NFL and the NCAA need to look at the demographics of these sports and ask themselves if they are doing enough to promote diversity in sports. Until then, the numbers will continue to be hard to find.