Marking Jackie Robinson Day earlier this week, Matt Welch attributes the declining percentage of black baseball players in recent years to the expansion of opportunities for black men elsewhere:
Baseball, ahead of other professions, and ahead of other sports, allowed people with black skin to compete. Combined with the deep bench of talent that had been nurtured in the Negro Leagues, this opening led to black participation rates that quickly zoomed north of U.S. Census figures (which these days put the African-American population at 12.6 percent). But as other professional sports opened up and—importantly—became popular, black Americans started picking up the shoulder pads and lacing up the high-tops. Happiest of all, black kids in school nowadays know they are not doomed to max out as porters or bellhops. That doesn’t mean racism is behind us in the workplace, but it does mean that fields of competition in all walks of life have opened up in ways that even optimists would have found difficult to believe in 1964.
Meanwhile, actual “diversity” in baseball has never been higher. More than 26 percent of big-league baseball players were born outside of the United States, across 16 different countries.
Kavitha Davidson pushes back a bit: