Too Late To Apologize ……
As MLB celebrates the Civil Rights games scheduled over the weekend I found it quite fascinating to see the interview that took place between Hank Aaron and CNN’s — Don Lemmon . The interview with baseball’s former home run King shed light on what is now a glaring disparity within the game of baseball and that is that the African American’s participation within the game , is now said to be at its lowest level in years. I know that the game’s hierarchy has done its utmost to honor Jackie Robinson and his contribution’s to the game but I feel that Aaron summed it up best when he said that …..” baseball simply doesn’t do enough to lure young African American fans to the game “ . If anything it has been how the game is now marketed and the mere fact that Commissioner Bud Selig has set his sights on the Latin America , the Caribbean basin as well South Asia to bring the game of baseball to a wider audience. And granted , the game has seen a growth in those areas but what cannot be denied is the waning interest in the game amongst young African Americans . So much so , that their participation in the game at the professional level is now at its lowest level in two decades.
Slide show for your perusal .
It wasn’t that long ago that Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Torii Hunter made the comment that ….” Latino males who are of African ancestry can’t be considered to be black “ ……unfortunately for Hunter even if that wasn’t his intent to generate the resentment that may well have brought up amongst the Latin players but after those comments if anything , it simply didn’t stir much of a response amongst prominent African American players in the league . I’d like the to think that the contributions of such players as Reggie Jackson , Willie Mays , Robinson and Aaron would actually mean something to young African American players at the youth level but the fact of the matter is now they are simply no real African American icons within the game today that they can simply identify with. They’ve seen the game brought to its knees by the antics of Barry Bonds the steroid allegations that have surround him and the game’s handling of that very issue amongst other things may well be one of the main reasons for their choosing to shy away from the game of baseball. Most certainly as Hank Aaron stated the league hierarchy has indeed done a poor job of actually bringing back the game at the grassroots level .
OK, it’s said that they have specific programs within the elementary schools , high school and inner cities within their recreation departments . But that in of-itself simply hasn’t been enough to actually heighten the interest sought by the game . And that if anything is really a sad indictment of the game and how much of a waning interest that there now is with the African American community. If anything the NBA and NFL have simply stepped up their branding and marketing of their respective sports and the financial opportunities there are far greater and the chance of immediate success would seem to be far greater given the right set of circumstances for a player seeking entry into the those sports .
One of the points also raised by Hank Aaron also was that during lean economic times we tend to see it hit the African American community hard in terms of their attending games and taking an interest in recreational events . But I think that comparison can be made for the whole demographic of the community at large because if fans aren’t simply turning up for games then there’s also to be less of an interest in participating in that sport as a recreation. Certainly , I do believe also that when public schools are making budgetary cuts within physical education it makes the situation much more stark as to the gravity of the events that are now taking place. Even within the game itself where we now see that there’s also a glaring disparity with the haves and have nots amongst the large and small market teams I can’t help but wonder what might be the next step to be taken by Bud Selig , the team owners , in particular the MLBPA and what they might do to remedy the situation that facing them as they see a fall-off in the presence of African Americans within the sport at the professional level amongst the players. Certainly at the executive level amongst the general managers and managers there is a presence there with prominent African Americans . But I for one have yet to hear a public statement from any of the individuals in question concerning this issue much less a public statement on this issue from Bud Selig, himself. I think if anything Selig’s handling of this all has been like everything else that he at times deal with , it tends to be haphazard and rather laissez-faire attitude as he simply seeks to put a positive spin on any issue that tends to show the image of the game in a bad light . And nowhere was this more self evident than his handling with the whole steroid issue and the hearings that came with this all he gave his own testimony to the House Oversight Committee .
I don’t know that there’s a clear cut answer for this situation but I do feel that the league hierarchy has been lax in dealing with this and several other issues that now seems to have befallen the game of baseball. Even when I hear statements being made by Rob Manfred even addressing the financial disparities within the game I simply know that he’s not at all sincere much less does or any of his colleagues within baseball’s hierarchy have a real answer for the disparities and problems . It would appear problem solving isn’t even the highest priority within the game of baseball but merely keeping up this facade that they’re simply the ones who still carry this flag of social conscience as it relates to the issue of racial integration within team sports. If anything it’s simply now doing the game a disservice as it fails to really deal with a number of issues within its own parameters.
Picture gallery for your perusal .
What thoughts if any do you have concerning this piece and are you at all in agreement with the statement made by Hank Aaron ? And what changes if any do you believe would be of benefit to the game concerning this specific issue ? Simply just chime in with a comment as you deem fit .
Alan aka tophatal ……………………
Picture and slide show details below .
(1) Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron watches a tribute video showing him hitting his 715th career home run at the Major League Baseball Beacon Awards Banquet at the Omni Hotel on May 14, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images North America / Mark Zarrilli …….
(2) (From left to right) Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, Billye Aaron and Beacon Award winner Ernie Banks gather after the Beacon Awards Banquet at the Omni Hotel on May 14, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Getty Images North America / Mark Zarrilli …….
(3) Baseball Hall of Famers wave to fans following ceremonies opening the Hank Aaron Museum at the Hank Aaron Stadium on April 14, 2010 in Mobile, Alabama. From left: Bob Feller , Ozzie Smith , Reggie Jackson, Hank Aaron and Rickey Henderson . Photo by Dave Martin/Getty Images North America …….