Sports Industry

This page is about the correlation between the sports world and racism.

Baseball/Negro League

In the 1880s, black players were not allowed in the baseball world, reflecting the trend that blacks were not given an equal life as white people, which was an accepted fact at the time. However, they started allowing black players into the baseball league. Due to the opposition to this, the baseball world created the Negro League (a black-only team). In addition, there was a color line, a rule that black players could not participate in the major leagues.

The first black Major League player (Jackie Robinson)

In 1947, Jackie Robinson broke the color line for the first time and entered the major leagues. Initially, he was looked at by his teammates with cold eyes, and fans showed humiliating and discriminatory behavior and actions. However, Robinson was gradually accepted by his teammates for his achievements and good attitude. In addition, with the advent of Robinson's Major League Baseball, the number of black fans increased. At the time, the audience seats were divided into white and black, but black fans flooded in and soon, there were too many black people coming in to see the matches, and the rule to separate seats was abolished. Robinson contributed in eliminating a discriminatory behavior in the sports world.

Discrimination based on position (stacking)

As Jackie Robinson came into the baseball scene, the proportion of black players gradually increased in the 1960s. However, a new form of discrimination called stacking has emerged. Stacking is discrimination by position, with a large proportion of white players being assigned in central positions (pitcher, second baseman, etc.) and a large proportion of blacks in non-central positions (first baseman, outfielder). As of 1980, the ratio of white and black players in the central position was 44:18 (%), and the ratio of outfielders was 25:54 (%). This form of discrimination was intended to present the class difference of white and black people at the time. As of now, it is reported that stacking has almost disappeared.

Present Day

In recent years, the proportion of black athletes in the sports world has been on the rise. Looking at the percentage of black people in major sports worlds, we can see an increasing trend in each. In the NBA and US professional basketball leagues, the percentage of black athletes increased from 54% in 1971 to 75% in 1979 and 80% in 1996. Even now, the proportion of black athletes is 81.1%. In the American Football League (NFL), the proportion of black players has increased from 32% in 1971, to 48% in 1978 and 67% in 1996. Currently, black players make up about 70% of the NFL. In this way, some sports have an increasing trend, but there is also a decreasing trend. In the Major League Baseball (MLB), it increased from 25% in 1970 to 73% in 1979, but decreased to 17% in 1996. As of now, the proportion of black athletes has fallen to 7.7%, more than half of 1996. There are two reasons cited for this. One is that black children are less interested in baseball. The second reason is that baseball costs more than sports such as basketball. In the past, baseball was considered a low-cost sport, but when considering the cost for bats, mitts, balls, helmets, and so on, it is very costly. This trend could be seen in other costly sports such as ice hockey, where there are few black players. For this reason, it is perceived that poverty amongst black people is affecting the decline in black athletes in baseball.

Effects of Discrimination Today

In recent years, the proportion of black athletes has dominated major sports. There are also sports that are mostly closed by black athletes (NBA, etc.). However, the percentage of black managers in the NFL(made up mostly of black players) is 0, and the NBA does not even reach 7%. This can also be seen in other sports. The NBA claims that race is not a factor that affects the league, but it can be understood that this is not true and that they are pretending that there is no disparity. Furthermore, trends to not hire black people as coaches and leading positions because they are less familiar with new technology which is used in sports today. Though improvements have been made, discrimination behind the scenes continues.