There has been much consternation and gnashing of teeth over why there are fewer African-Americans populating the major league baseball landscape. While the reasons aren’t simple, I will attempt to break it down in this article.

First, in order to generate interest in a sport, it helps to have family that takes you to games when you are young and impressionable. That is a good time to make an impression on a young lad who has so many options that compete for his time, between other sports, other TV shows, the Internet and games.

In short, it is not as simple as marketing the game to blacks. And even if you tried, how do you do it when so many of today’s stars are either white or Hispanic?

No, in order to make that impression and build that market, you need to establish heroes. We all know that sports stars make bad role models, but they do help build the fan base of a future generation.

That said, stars like Albert Pujols and Joey Votto do little to relate to that young African American child that instead sees stars when watching the NBA and its mostly black superstars.

While you can’t arbitrarily determine who succeeds and who does not in baseball, you can market the blacks that star in today’s game better and, more importantly, you can do one very critical thing.

You can make the game more affordable for the average family to go to games.

Look, even black stars like Ryan Howard make exorbitant salaries that few of us can relate to. And these salaries get transferred to outrageous ticket prices that result in the average middle class fan being unable to go to a baseball game.

Now, those high ticket prices may help clubs pay the bills in the short term, but they do little to establish the next generation of future fans of the sport.

Especially in this economy, where even the white middle class cannot afford to send a family to a baseball game, it is impossible to reach out to blacks and get their interest.

Meanwhile, the game is slow and boring to many. While I love baseball for its strategy, I have to admit that it does not carry the cache of the NBA, which is fast moving and better marketed to the masses.

Now, there will never be as many blacks attending games as whites because the population of poverty leans more toward blacks than whites, but you could turn a few young kids into fans if they could just see a game in person.

Until now, this hadn’t been a major concern for the MLB, except to appear to be politically correct. But since the economy has gone into the tank, it becomes more glaring that young blacks do not care as much about baseball as they do about other sports.

Racism has always existed in sports, but it’s telling that the issue has not been embraced by MLB until they need the attendance. When times were good, they didn’t care.

By racism, I say that a white player is a gritty player even if he is average, but if he is black, he is not good unless he is “athletic” and performs to some expectation of running fast and doing great things.

And the sport is marketed to whites. Well, that has to change. But it may be too late.

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