Major League Baseball Focusing On Urban Youth
There has been a concerning statistic flying around the Major League Baseball, as there is only about 8% of active major-league players being African-American when Opening Day 2015 took place. This is a startling fact, as that is less than half of the percent that was present 30 years ago; meaning the decline has more than doubled. This is why MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is partnering up with community leaders to head up any number of initiatives aimed at getting and retaining minorities’ interest in the sport.
According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), youth participation rates have dropped 4.3% since 2009. One of Manfred’s close friends, former Trenton Mayor Doug Palmer, who is a consultant on the Play Ball initiative, is trying to push this program all around the country. One of the main problems that urban youth face today is financial, which is a pretty big de-motivational factor that they are taking into account.
This is why they are making strides to help eliminate some of the financial barriers that are associated with playing baseball. This is done with hopes of making the sport popular among inner-city youth again, as it could help drive more players to the MLB. In this program, Manfred saw that there was 25% African-American’s at the draft this year compared to the 8% that are present in the major league. This is a huge step forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done.
Once the youth is able to make it past little league and high school, one of the next problems to address is college. As mentioned before, finances takes a toll on which players will be able to ultimately succeed in such a costly sport. The NCAA Baseball Scholarship has a limit and this affect the diversity in the sport; for the exact reason said above. It isn’t fair to blame it all on the NCAA, as they are not the entire problem.
The good news is that the MLB is making investments for its future, with programs like Play Ball and Urban Youth Academies; they have announced a joint investment of $30 million alongside the MLBPA. This all gives us hope for the future of baseball, and hopefully anyone can play the sport they love.
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