According to some people, perhaps more wishfully than rationally, we’re living in “post-racial” time in which bigotry isn’t a problem anymore in the workplace or other areas of our society. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
Undoubtedly, racism is much more subtle today than it was during the heyday of the Ku Klux Klan but it still impacts hiring decisions, performance evaluations, and other workplace situations. A study of Major League Baseball games by Southern Methodist University (SMU) researchers provides quantifiable evidence of this.
The SMU study utilized the QuesTec computerized pitch-monitoring system to look at 3.5 million pitches from 2004 to 2008. A key finding was that home-plate umpires called disproportionately more strikes for pitchers in their same ethnic group. In short, white pitchers received the benefit of the doubt on close calls by white umpires while pitchers of color didn’t. Since the majority of Major League Baseball umpires are white, white pitchers have benefitted — and pitchers of color have been hurt — by this form of racial privilege.
The study revealed that while white pitchers could successfully nibble at the corners of the strike zone, “minority pitchers reacted to umpire bias by playing it safe with the pitches they threw in a way that actually harmed their performance and statistics,” according to the SMU research team.
It makes you appreciate just how dominating a pitcher Bob Gibson was ….
Of course, the SMU study has implications for our society beyond the world of sports. As David Sirota wrote while commenting on the the SMU study, “Though gleaned from baseball, these findings transcend athletics by providing a larger lesson about conditioned behavior in an institutionally racist society.” See “How Baseball Explains Modern Racism.”
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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