As a sort of mild rebuttal, I thought I’d share a compelling argument for the growing NEED of more male role models from a most unlikely source.
A New York Times feature quoting a Major League Baseball survey said only 8.3 percent of players on Opening Day identified themselves as African-American or black. That compares to an all-time high of 19 percent in 1986. In fact, there are fewer blacks in MLB than at any time since 1959.
So, what’s that got to do with male role models, you ask? Bear with me.
Like many other know-it-alls, I’d always assumed the reasons for black flight from baseball to football and basketball were obvious: the latter sports were just a whole lot faster and cooler.
Well, according to the Times, that’s NOT why blacks have abandoned baseball. Rather, the reasons are two-fold:
- Division I college baseball programs offer only 11.7 scholarships per team and those few are divided among many, many players. As a result, says the Times, choosing baseball over scholarship-rich football or basketball programs made little sense to gifted young athletes from low-income families.
- As the Yankees’ C.C. Sabathia told the Times, “Baseball’s a sport where you learn how to play catch with your dad. There’s a lot of single-parent homes in the inner city, so it’s hard to get kids to play.” As an aside, a SmartCEO profile of FUBU founder Daymond John said he was raised by a single parent after his father left home when he was 10. John turned to clothes instead of Little League, and the fashion industry’s gain became MLB’s loss.
I can relate to the second scenario. My uncle, Buddy, made it his business each and every Saturday morning to take my cousin, Barry, and me, into our backyard beginning when we were three or four years of age. He taught us how to catch, hit, throw and run the bases.
Buddy also made sure Barry and I played Saturday Morning League, Farm League and Little League baseball. While neither of us made it to the Bigs, we had a male role model who might have enabled it. That’s a distinct competitive advantage.
So, the next time you pick up a book asking if men are still necessary, read another business magazine extolling the countless reasons why women make better leaders or overhear a co-worker say something like, “What do you expect? He’s a man,” think about ALL of the missing male role models in so many American families today. And, think about the impact the missing male role model is having on the development of someone’s son or nephew.
Forget about whether the kid will play major league baseball or not. Boys need the steadying hand, guidance and counseling that can ONLY come from a trusted and competent male role model.
OK, ladies. Go for it. Bash me for being just another typically boorish Neanderthal.