MLB – MORE DIVERSITY IS NEEDED IN THE BROADCAST BOOTH
Since Commissioner Rob Manfred took office, he has been on a mission to cultivate a new generation of baseball fans primarily by focusing on pace of play and pace of action initiatives.
But, perhaps he should also turn his attention towards the broadcast booth to help expand the sport’s fan base.
According to a 2015 article by Fusion, nearly 90% of local TV baseball announcers are white men and most of them are middle-aged or beyond.
Obviously, this type of broadcaster appeals to the largest audience currently watching the sport (as of 2014): 55+ white males.
(Source: 52% of baseball viewership in 2014 was 55+ years old; 27% were 35-54; 82% of the total were white).
Fusion also reports that these stats contrast with the NBA and NFL who have more female viewers and a greater amount of fans from other races and age groups.
The NBA, particularly, has better diversity in the broadcast booth. Per the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, “people of color” and women held 37.1% of the radio and television broadcast positions in the NBA (20.6% African Americans; 10.6% Latinos and Asians; 5.9% Women).
While it makes sense that announcers from a variety of cultures/backgrounds would relate to a wider amount of potential fans, it makes me wonder why baseball is not encouraging networks to recruit more women, younger broadcasters and different races of announcers?
By doing so, it could also help attract a more diverse pool of players.
And, last year, whites accounted for the largest race of baseball players (59%) followed by Latino – 28.5%, 8.3% – African Americans, and 1.7% – Asian. (As identified by the players themselves.)
This complex problem is not lost on MLB which has been working hard to expand the number of its urban youth leagues, academies and diversity task forces.
But, are they even looking towards the broadcast booth as a potential spot to attract more diversity to the sport?
I realize that the entire solution does not merely rest in adding more of a cross-section of our multifarious society to the announcers list.
It just seems glaringly obvious that baseball needs to wake up and recognize that voices from a variety of cultures are severely lacking in the broadcast booth and tackling this issue could be a step forward in solving its problem of getting and keeping a broader array of fans and athletes.
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