SPORTS CHART OF THE DAY: The Decline Of African-American AND Little League Baseball Players

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A couple of weeks ago, we looked at the decline in black baseball players in Major League Baseball. One question that we didn’t cover, was “Why?” The common explanation is that young African-Americans are moving away from baseball and towards other sports like football and basketball.

Let’s take a look.

We know that the number of black Major League baseball players is on the decline. And if we look at Little League participation numbers, we see those are also on the decline. Chicken-Egg-Chicken-Something else?

What we see is that blacks in baseball peaked in 1995 at 19.0 per cent. On the other hand, little league participation did not peak until 1997. And really, there wasn’t a strong decline until 2000 or 2001.

Little League paticipation

It is impossible to make any grand conclusions using just this data. But the similarity in the trends is eyebrow-raising. And if there is indeed a causation here and not just a correlation — a BIG if — it actually looks like the decline in black baseball players may have something to do with the decline in the number of kids playing little league baseball. (Fewer role models?).

We need some more data here before we draw any conclusions. But for the time being, it is interesting to note that the trends in black big leaguers and the trends in little league baseball are following similar paths.

Data via and