Major League Baseball has always had a problem attracting people of color in this country.
In his new book Till the End, Sabathia lays out the problems MLB is having with Black players.
Sabathia says it’s hard being a Black player in MLB
One of the issues Sabathia addressed is that Black players have a harder time in the MLB than any other league in pro sports:
“Taking on racial issues when you’re a Black baseball player is incredibly complicated. For one thing, you are almost always in a serious minority. That’s why you’ve seen more Black NFL and NBA players speak out than MLB players — there’s strength in numbers.”
He’s right. According to the Philadephia Inquirer, only 7% of MLB is comprised of Black players as of 2021. Meanwhile, the NFL is comprised of almost 60% Black players.
Sabathia also said there were times when he was in Cleveland and New York that he wanted to speak out, but he didn’t want to come off as the “angry Black guy.”
He also expressed his belief that the sport isn’t for Black players due to a lack of support for issues that concern them like Black Lives Matter. The NBA and even the NFL have done a better job of supporting these issues and listening to players’ concerns.
Why isn’t MLB popular among Black people?
This is not the first time someone has pointed out why the sport is so unpopular among Black people right now.
One of the reasons Sabathia pointed out was the lack of Black superstars in the sport. Although there are stars like Ronald Acuna Jr., who is one of the biggest names in MLB, he is not African-American but Afro-Latino.
According to Sports Illustrated, MLB is still in the process of trying to attract young Black players in youth baseball. However, it is still losing out to the NFL and the NBA when it comes to interest.
Unlike football and basketball, baseball can also be very slow with not much action to follow. Baseball also seems to be losing young players to soccer too.
What can MLB do to fix the problem?
One way MLB can fix this problem is to help make the game more affordable. Baseball equipment is very expensive. Compare that to football and basketball, where all you really need is a ball. In baseball, you need a ball, a bat, and a glove.
Also, most playgrounds have a basketball goal too. There aren’t many places available with baseball fields either.
Accessibility to equipment and more neighborhood baseball fields may be the key to drawing more young Black players into the sport.
But the biggest thing MLB can do is to continue to support and listen to its Black players and continue to seek more diversity in the game. MLB recently put Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. in charge of youth baseball development, which is not only smart but shows it is trying to attract more minorities to the sport.