For a long time baseball has been considered as “America’s national pass time” but unfortunately the urban community has not received the memo.
According to ESPN, MLB demographics show that in 2008, only 8% of active MLB players were of African-American descent and more than half of Latino players were imported from outside the country instead of bringing them from our own backyard. The MLB continues it’s efforts to attract inner city kids to baseball, MLB initiative programs like Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities(RBI) have been created solely for this purpose.
Through the R.B.I initiative, the Urban Youth Academy was started in 2006, the program offers free enrollment open year-round to more than 2,500 youths in their respective cities. The academy first began in Compton, California and it’s success has it now expanding to Houston, Texas and Hialeah, Florida with other urban cities under serious consideration.
The success of the academy has been evident, more than 100 of the academy’s student athletes have participated in college baseball or softball programs, with more than 75 of them signing with or being drafted by Major League Teams.
In addition, more than 90% have graduated from high school. Thus, MLB’s efforts have been significantly successful so far, it’s been a constant struggle to keep a strong connection with the urban community. Which bears the question, Is Major League Baseball doing enough to win the hearts of kids in urban areas across the country or are they in a battle against modern society that they just can’t win? We look more into this matter ahead.
Growing up in an urban community myself, my friends and I were not big fans of baseball, we didn’t hate the sport, it just was not our first choice, we preferred to play basketball or football instead. Sure, we’ll play baseball once in while but it just wasn’t our thing, it wasn’t part of our environment.
See, young people are going to accommodate to their surroundings and baseball is just not part of the urban environment. The society we live in today also affects the way the urban youth looks at baseball. Our youth see athletes of similar skin color play basketball, play football, while they do not see the same scenario when it comes to baseball.
The other side of it is the economical issue. While baseball popularity is a major issue in urban communities, there are young beloved baseball fans that have a passion for the game of baseball.
Thanks to the R.B.I program, young aspiring baseball athletes are able to take advantage of these resources, but many urban areas across the country don’t even have baseball fields for kids to play on. These are some of the major issues that the MLB will need correct to revive baseball in the inner cities.
I have to give it up to MLB for it’s efforts, they have done an outstanding job and have made significant strides with the Urban Youth Academy. Though growing up I was not a big baseball fan I’ve grown to love the game, but in my opinion, with the exception of those few that were born swinging a bat no matter where they’re from, the majority of the urban youth in America do not see the flashy lifestyle that they dream about in baseball the way they do in other sports like basketball or football.
Don’t get me wrong, many urban kids love baseball and dream of making it to the major leagues one day and MLB needs to get into these neighborhoods and be their for them. The majority would tell you though that baseball is just not the popular sport in the hood.