May 8 (Bloomberg) -- Major League Baseball improved slightly in an annual study measuring racial and gender hiring practices, though it still trails the National Basketball Association.
Baseball was given a total of 84.4 points, up from 84.3 a year ago, for an overall grade of “B/B+” in the 2014 Racial and Gender Report Card. MLB earned an “A” grade in its racial hiring practices and a “C+” grade in its gender hiring efforts in the study released yesterday by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida.
The report’s release comes about a week after the NBA gave Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling a lifetime ban for making racist comments. The episode highlighted the need for leagues and teams to be mindful of racial and gender issues, said Richard Lapchick, the study’s primary author.
“When we act as if everything is going well and don’t take note of things we really should be paying attention to, we suddenly get punched in the gut with an incident like what happened with the Clippers,” Lapchick, founder and director of the Orlando, Florida, school’s diversity institute, said in a phone interview. “It makes us pay more attention overall to the issues that still need attention.”
The NBA received grades of “A+” for racial hiring practices and “B+” for gender hiring practices in the most recent study of the league completed in June. Its overall grade was “A,” with 90.7 points.
The Racial and Gender Report Card is in its 22nd year. It’s the ninth time the report is being issued sport-by-sport, with reports also done on the Women’s NBA, National Hockey League, National Football League, Major League Soccer and college sports.
“The NBA is still the leader on both sides,” Lapchick said. “The WNBA is a close second, but baseball is ahead of the NFL on these issues, though the NFL is closing the gap.”
The data used in the study, which is complete through March 30, was collected by MLB and shared with the DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program institute at Central Florida. It measured racial diversity among players, managers and coaches, and racial and gender diversity among owners, MLB and team management, administrators, doctors and head trainers.
Baseball’s 25-man opening day rosters included 8.2 percent of players who identified themselves as African-American or black, down 0.1 percentage points from a year ago and matching the report’s all-time low set in the 2007 season.
Baseball has made efforts to increase black participation in the sport, introducing several urban youth initiatives, and the sport last month said former New York Mets and Chicago White Sox manager Jerry Manuel would oversee an on-field diversity task force, whose efforts Lapchick commended.
African-Americans accounted for 14 of the 73 picks that were made on the first day of baseball’s 2013 draft, or 19 percent.
“That’s reversed a long-time trend and may be a positive sign,” Lapchick said.
Whites made up 60.9 percent of rosters, a 0.3 percentage-point decline from 2013. The number of Latinos rose 0.2 percentage points to 28.4 percent, while Asians decreased 0.1 percentage points, to 2.1 percent.
Women made up 30 percent of the workforce in baseball’s central office, a decline of 5.6 percentage points, while people of color fell 2.9 percentage points to 27.9 percent.
Baseball teams with female owners include the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs and Colorado Rockies. Los Angeles Angels owner Arturo Moreno is the only person of color who is a majority MLB team owner, though several clubs have minority representation in their ownership groups.
One is the Los Angeles Dodgers, who count basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson as a part owner.
The NBA’s Clippers controversy began April 25 when audio was posted on the website TMZ of Sterling telling a female friend that he didn’t want her putting a photo of herself and Johnson on Instagram, and that he didn’t want her bringing black people to games.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced Sterling’s ban on April 29, adding that he would urge the other NBA owners to force the 80-year-old real estate billionaire to sell his team.
Johnson is among several people who have expressed interest in buying the Clippers. Most have included a minority element in their prospective ownership groups, a welcome and overdue element in modern-day team-buying strategy, Lapchick said.
“The fact that this happened with the Clippers is placing a special emphasis on minority ownership,” Lapchick said. “The day has long passed that this should have happened all the time.”
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