What decides what sports we play when were young? How do we know what sports we are truly best suited to play? Does our culture upbringing affect what sports we are allowed to play? By examining the differences between inner city kids and suburban kids we see a clear difference. In wealthier towns, sports like lacrosse, golf and hockey dominate their region. While in urban cities, we see a tendency of young athletes playing more basketball and football. Is this just a coincidence or are the sports kids play affected by their culture rather than their athletic ability?
Think about what golf, lacrosse and hockey all have in common. They all require a large initial investment, to play the sport. In addition to this, you need a course or specialized field to play on. Golf requires a lot of land and time to build and maintain a functional course. To play hockey you need an indoor facility, one that can preserve an ice rink all year round.Lacrosse, requires a field which is not as demanding, but the gear required to play the sport is expensive. In a city like Detroit for example, it’s rare to see any hockey rinks, golf course or lacrosse fields. Are basketball and football just the preferred sports of kids growing up in Detroit? Or are these children subjected to a smaller range of sports to chose from?
John Rawls, an influential philosopher, proposed many theories on fairness and inequality. Rawls proposed that the origin of new inequalities is brought on from: 1. contingent factors of birth 2. luck. These can be applied directly to the situation. Rawls would believe that there is a clear inequality in sports. Rawls may believe that, certain kids would be placed at an automatic disadvantage based on the environment they are born into or the natural talent they are born with. In the case of inner city born children, Rawls would say that they were born with unequal opportunity to make it in professional sports, due to the fact that they have a narrower range of sports they can pick from to play which may not correlate with their natural aptitude. While kids who were raised in the suburb have less limitations when it comes to the sports they can play. How would Rawls combat this? He would propose that we create institutions that will help determine which sports kids are best suited for or have the chance in succeeding in most.
It seems as is if Rawls would be correct, the picture above shows that in each professional sport there is clear racial segregation. Especially in baseball. The issue has been brought up over the past few years by Major League Baseball. Over the past 50 years, baseball has seen fewer black players make it to the major league ranks. The 2010-2011 total saw one of the lowest percentages of black players in decades. Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig has attributed two causes to the problem. First, baseball is an expensive sport to play. Much like lacrosse the equipment is expensive. Gloves, Bats, Cleats and batting gloves all drive up the price to play the sport. While the fantasy of baseball is fathers passing down their glove to their son, the truth is, gloves fall apart and bats lose their effectiveness. The other problem is more troubling for the sport. Baseball players on average make more money than any other professional athlete, acquiring guaranteed contracts that cannot be taken away under any circumstance. However, unless you are a top prospect, chances are you will be playing in small, quiet cities traveling on long bus rides for very little money until you are 25. Alternative sports like basketball and football offer the chance for kids to gain national fame at the age of 18 at the college ranks, and can be playing professional and making millions by the time they are 19 and 20 respectively. The MLB has launched the program RBI, which stands for Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities. The program is baseballs effort to try and combat what may be an inevitable future where all the top athletes choose the glamour sports. The program brings different events and well known players to these cities in order to increase participation and interest in the sport among inner city youth, while teaching good sportsmanship and the value of our education.
To my new commenters, do you believe that there is inequality in sports based off of cultural separation? If so, do you believe this inequality is inevitable or can it be reversed? How would you go about changing it? Would Rawls support this RBI program? What do you believe Rawls would do to change this inequality? What would you do to limit the inequality in sports?
Thanks to media such as ESPN, this inequality had been reduced. Kids are exposed to a wide number of sports from a young age. Perhaps kids just want to play what they think they’re good at, or what their friends play. The reasons will always be shrouded in a little mystery, but the issue will remain a hot button topic as long as our professional leagues continue to remain segregated and in consent competition for the best athletes.
UPDATE: An edit was made on December 12th, to contain more relevance to political science and to strengthen the argument at hand.