A while back I mentioned that, yet again, MLB has put together a panel to look at the issue of race and that I planned to look at the available data more closely. The issue is a complicated one, and I am still trying to compile the data.
However, one argument put forth to explain the decline of blacks in baseball is that blacks, in general, are not interested in the game. In fact, a lot of folks have pointed out that there are few black fans in the stands, but has anyone every tried to count them? Not really.
This past April, the Public Religion Research Institute reported findings from its January 2013 Religion & Politics Tracking Survey. The survey revealed that blacks were more likely than whites and Hispanics to agree that football has replaced baseball as the national pastime.
Ok. But that doesn’t tell us who baseball’s fans are. Back in 2006, Business Weekreported that the Chicago White Sox were one of the few teams that attempted to collect data on their fans. The White Sox estimated that only 4.5 percent of those attending games were black (in a city where blacks accounted for nearly 40 percent of the population).
While there is a lot of good information on diversity within Major League Baseball, there is relatively little information on the fans themselves. Observations suggest that there is a lack of diversity among those attending games, which could be related to economics and social class, but few have studied the extent of the problem or the reasons.
The Gallup Organization has been asking people if they are baseball fans for decades. But the information they’ve put online does not discuss race. What their data do show, however, is that the percentage of Americans stating that baseball is their favorite sport has declined over time. In 1960, 34 percent of those polled stated that baseball was their favorite sport. In 2008: 10 percent.
Obviously, though interesting, these data are insufficient to answer the question about the race and ethnicity of baseball fans. Like the issue of why there are fewer blacks playing the game, we need more concrete research on who attends games and why.
Does this belong in the “too obsessive” category? (To be fair, the cheap $30 toaster I bought a few months ago has stopped toasting altogether. And this one does match my white kitchen appliances.) At least I didn’t go overboard and order the $114 pendant made out of Memorial Stadium wood! (I’ll start saving for that today!) ~ baseballrebecca
An Easter tradition in my family is to watch baseball (the Baltimore Orioles, of course!) on my brother-in-law’s gargantuan television. This year, we delighted in the O’s third win of the season and their 3-0 record. When that game was over, John switched the channel to the Yankees-Rays game. Again, the entire family was delighted to see another team win its third game of the season. Especially at the expense of the Yankees. In fact, it didn’t matter who the winning team was.
What was important was that the Yankees were 0-3. (Of course, they got even when the came to Baltimore the very next day. But that only adds to the average O’s fan’s dislike of them.)
As much as I enjoyed one of those rare moments when the family comes together in agreement on something, I also thought of my BBFF (uh, best baseball friend forever? duh!). The one person I know that is allowed to be a Yankees fan. Being born and raised in New York, its his birthright to be a Yankees fan. Afterall, they have to have some fans.
That got me thinking about my socialization as a Yankee-hater. Where did it come from? Was it fair to the Yankees? Was it fair to baseball? Was I being closed-minded? Over the next few days, we’ll explore this topic in an attempt to answer the questions: (1) Is it possible to overcome one’s early baseball socialization? (2) Is it possible to love, like, or maybe just hate less, the Yankees? (3) And perhaps most importantly – would I want to?