Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

Educating Latin American Baseball Players: How MLB Should Protect Their Players for after Their Careers

Academic journal article Pepperdine Policy Review

Educating Latin American Baseball Players: How MLB Should Protect Their Players for after Their Careers

Article excerpt

Introduction

Baseball has long been considered "America's past time." Over the last few decades, baseball has enjoyed increased international popularity. International signings for new players have expanded tremendously since the introduction of the sport in the region in the 1880s (Storms, 2018). In 2010, 29.8% of Major League Baseball (MLB) players were born outside of the United States (Winfree, 2010). Of the 259 international players on the 2017 Opening Day rosters for all 30 teams in the MLB, 84 players were born in the Dominican Republic, 74 in Venezuela, 17 in Cuba, 11 in Mexico, 5 in Colombia, and 3 each in Brazil, Panama, and Nicaragua. Approximately 50% of all MLB players in 2017 were Latin American (Anderson, 2018). The teams earn an estimated $500,000 more in annual ticket revenue for every additional foreign-born player signed to their rosters (Winfree, 2010). The individual teams and the MLB capitalize on their new international players, but they are not as concerned with what happens to players once their baseball career has finished.

Latin American players are significantly behind other international players when it comes to educational attainment. Considering that nearly 75% of all MLB international players come from Latin America, the MLB and its teams should actively be working to increase educational opportunities for those players. At the moment, the MLB is not supporting Latin American players in gaining high school education for their post-baseball careers. After nearly 10 years in the minor league system, and an average of 5 years in the majors, players return to their home country without having gained much more than money and travel miles (Issacs, 2017; Witnauer et al., 2007). The MLB should require or provide more high school education opportunities for all players - regardless of their birth country - to support them in successful post-baseball careers rather than use them simply to boost ticket revenue or get a good batter for the season.

Educational Issues for Latin American Players

Educational institutions in Latin America are divided into three main sections: primary education, lower secondary education, and upper secondary education. Primary education is similar to elementary school in the United States and usually covers students between the ages of 6 and 10 years, with slight variation between countries on the exact age of attending students. Lower secondary education, similar to American middle school, covers students between 11 and 13 (D'Alessandre & Mattioli, 2015). Upper secondary, equivalent to high school, aims to educate students ages 14 to 18 (Lopez et al., 2017). Latin American countries began mandating minimum formal education requirements during the 1990s. In 1997, all Latin American countries required at least primary school education and lower secondary education, with the exception of Nicaragua, who only mandates primary school education (D'Alessandre & Mattioli, 2015).

Latin American players who show exceptional talent often drop out of school between the ages of 13 and 16 - during their lower secondary years (Elk & Moreno, 2018). These individuals typically have been in contact with MLB scouts who claim that they have a real shot at playing in the major leagues. Latin American players are a large part of the free agency plan, so there is not a requirement to graduate. If they sign as free agents, these players often abandon school all together to go work and develop in the minor league system (Elk & Moreno, 2018). The interruption of education because of baseball means that the primary, and possibly lower secondary, education is the most schooling that many of these players will complete.

In MLB, there is a rule mandating that anyone born in the United States, Canada, or Puerto Rico must have the equivalent of a high school diploma before being drafted (Remington, 2014). Players can be drafted or signed as free agents. As of 2012, the MLB draft consists of 40 rounds where the team with the worst record signs players first until the World Series winner signs last in that round (MLB, 2018). …

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