No, baseball doesn’t have a diversity problem – The Denver Post


When I first saw the CNN headline, “Major League Baseball has a diversity problem, experts say,” I thought it was a satire, since by all accounts baseball is the most racially diverse of all major sports. Then I read the actual article and learned that some Black leaders and sports experts really were complaining that only 7% of major league players were African-American. Many more players were people of color, but they were of Central or South American heritage. In the World Series of 2022, neither team had a “true” African-American player, which is to say a U.S.-born, non-Hispanic Black player, though both had several Black players.

First of all, there is a bit of bigotry involved in arguing that Black Latino players are not African-American enough, despite their African heritage and American citizenship. The hitting and pitching heroes of Houston’s win were largely players of color. Moreover, in the 2022 series, players from eight nations were on the rosters. Many are non-white. Yet Phil Dixon, the co-founder of the Negro League Baseball Museum, said that he would give Major League Baseball “an F” grade for diversity.

His primary gripe is that not enough is being done to increase the early pipeline for African-American players. There may be some truth to that, but the same can probably be said of many other sports. As far as I know, Black leaders have not demanded more “diversity” in the National Basketball Association, where the majority of players are African-American. But in baseball they want “diversity” and “representativeness,” and they worry that African-American kids will not have sufficient role models if most Black players are Hispanic.

These complaints demonstrate that in many contexts, “diversity” has become a euphemism for “we want more like us,” regardless of whether the “we” are underrepresented or overrepresented in a given sport or another area of life. In sports — as distinguished from other enterprises — diversity is not the primary goal. Winning is. No one expects a basketball or football team to cut a superior Black player in favor of a less accomplished non-Black player in order to achieve some sort of racial balance. Nor should they expect a baseball team to compromise its ability to win in order to achieve representative racial balance. Of course, all sports should encourage young people of all backgrounds to aspire to greatness and create a pipeline to that admirable goal.

The CNN article cites Jackie Robinson as proof of the benefits of diversifying sports. But the great number 42 proves the exact opposite. He ended racial discrimination, which is the exact opposite of selecting players on the basis of race in order to achieve some sort of racial balance.

When Robinson was brought up from the Montreal farm team to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, one southern player — appropriately named Dixie Walker — refused to play on the same team as what was then called a Negro. To his credit, Dodger President Branch Rickey traded Walker and kept Robinson. This was not only the right thing to do, but it turned out that Robinson was a better player than Walker (although Walker was pretty darn good). This is an example of how meritocracy can help end discrimination.

The Supreme Court now has a case pending before it which may determine whether colleges and universities follow the Robinson model of ending all racial discrimination rather than giving racial preferences. In sports, once overt discrimination began to end — with Robinson, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Willie Mays and other Black superstars — meritocracy seemed to prevail over racial balance. But ending discrimination in sports does not seem to be enough for some leaders, who demand proportional racial representation, but only in those sports, such as baseball, where it results in more African-American players.

Indeed, the very concept that a group is underrepresented, necessarily means that other groups are overrepresented. The question remains: What is the standard by which over and underrepresentation is measured? Is it the entire American population? Is it the relevant applicant pool? Or is it something else?

There is still far too much racial discrimination in many areas of American life, but universities and sports teams are not, with some exceptions, among the chief discriminators (it has long been rumored that some NBA teams have occasionally drafted a white bench player over more qualified Black players, not to increase diversity, but to placate their white fan base).

Historically, following the breaking of the race barrier by Jackie Robinson, sports have been a primary route to success through meritocracy. This is the time to increase opportunities for all minorities in all sports. It is not the time to erect new racial barriers to that important route under the false banner of “diversity.”

Dershowitz, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law, emeritus, is host of the DerShow on Rumble and is the author most recently of “The Price of Principle: Why Integrity Is Worth the Cost.”



Source link