Major League Baseball is experiencing an historic low in the number of African-American players. The league says about 8.5 percent of players on this year’s opening-day rosters identified themselves as African-American or black. That’s around half the number from the mid-1970s through the mid-1990s.
MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig has announced a new task force charged with reversing that decline. The 18-member committee will study how to increase diversity in the game, especially among black players.
“We have about 15 percent of our youth who are African-Americans, who participate in our program, and the majority of our kids are Latino,” said Vincent Coleman, director of baseball and softball programs at Harlem RBI. “It’s become a big challenge for us recently, of course, just like major league baseball.
Theories abound on why baseball is less popular among young African-American athletes, from a decrease in college scholarships to an increase in single-parent homes. Dr. Richard Lapchick, professor of sports management with the University of Central Florida, thinks there are other factors, like the popularity of sports like football and basketball among African-Americans.
Click on the audio link to hear host Richard Hake’s full conversation with Vincent Coleman and Richard Lapchick.