Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA), has committed US$10 million to help increase Black American participation across baseball.
The money will fund programmes from the new Players Alliance, which is hoped will improve the representation of Black Americans in the sport.
The joint grants will be delivered annually through 2024 and will look to fulfil an array of initiatives that the Players Association see as essential to be successful in their aims, which include player-led mentorship, the funding of individual leagues, equipment donations, special tournaments, clinics and playground activities, support Black cultural education to eliminate barriers, increase black business partnerships alongside employment in professional baseball, support baseball programmes in public schools and community centres and lastly, provide grants, scholarships and community services to various segments of the Black community.
Curtis Granderson, a former MLB player and President of the Players Alliance said: “As the stark racial minority in all aspects of our game, The Players Alliance has given a voice and platform to our Black players, unified in our stance against systemic racism. We stand together for what is right and to change our game for the better. The power of our player membership, including our non-Black teammates, coupled with the support of MLB and the Players Association, gives us the unique ability to create increased opportunities for the Black communities we care so much about.”
Black American participation within MLB is currently only at 8 per cent with youth players in the sport at 11 per cent. These figures indicate a rapid decrease in the involvement in baseball, which has fallen to almost half in the last 40 years.
“Major League Baseball is committed to enacting positive changes within our sport to mirror those we hope to see in society,” started Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred, Jr. “We believe that the efforts led by The Players Alliance will complement existing diversity initiatives and accelerate progress that will be beneficial for our game.”
MLBPA executive director Tony Clark added: “Recent events and social unrest have profoundly crystallized the need for prescriptive programmes and additional education designed to enhance Black participation at all levels of baseball for the betterment of our game as well as society.
“We look forward to working with The Players Alliance and MLB to make lasting changes and to have a substantive impact in this important area.”
The Players Alliance, which was launched back in June of this year, is a group made up of 100 current and former professional players, whose mission is to create an inclusive culture together with baseball and the community.
Despite only being active for a short period of time, the Players Alliance has created programmes and campaigns, including: Baseball Mentorship Programme (initiative to build and nurture mentoring relationships with the Black community), Gear For Good (baseball equipment donations to black community groups, from players) and the Alliance Access Programme (A scholarship, paid internship, and student employment initiative providing resources, education and advancement opportunities for the Black community.)
Author: Jake Wilkin