Monday, July 10, 2006

Home run 

This guestblogging entry is by Peter Swanson, a MOBster with SwanBlog. His posts have been linked on Scholars more than once in the past.

Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins has started a fund to encourage more black American kids to play baseball. There are a couple of encouraging signs in this Minneapolis Star Tribune article about the program.

First, this is one of the few times that �African American� has been used accurately, rather than as a politically correct substitute for �black.� In the story, the term distinguishes the black players who were born in the U.S. from the ones born in Latin America.

The other encouraging sign is the celebration of opportunity rather than diversity. If diversity is the paramount value, then the proliferation of Latin players on Major League Baseball rosters is an intrinsic good, with no questions asked. The players from various Spanish-speaking countries increase diversity, even as the number of American-born black players decrease. But Torii Hunter is focusing on the opportunity for inner-city kids to participate in the sport and to excel to the best of their abilities. Just this once, Hunter can be forgiven for using race as a proxy for socio-economic factors, since he is moving in the right direction.

A recent St. Paul Pioneer Press article about ice hockey in the city schools is less encouraging. Como Park coach Bill Niemczyk had this to say:

"Hockey's a very expensive sport, and it's almost exclusively a white sport," said Niemczyk, whose Como Park program had 40 players last season. "It's not like years ago, when you could just send your kid down to the rink and have him walk home at night. Now you have to drive him all over America and pay thousands of dollars for him to play. In the socioeconomics of the city, parents can't support it."

Well, I guess that's that. Too bad we don't have a hockey version of Torii Hunter.