This week, Public Enemy’s Chuck D sat down with Amy Nelson of Complex.com to talk about his love of baseball. Chuck D talked about missing diversity that baseball had during his childhood:
“Baseball was the black male refuge of the first 50 years of the 20th century. Those of us that worked together, played together, came together. Baseball is one of those games that is hard to play by yourself. It also was representative of the struggle for the unity we tried to have… It was beautiful to see all the ballplayers that came up together from their respective territories and nations, be it Venezuela, be it Puerto Rico, be it Dominican Republic, be it some of them from Cuba—and expect more from Cuba—that common bond of struggling against the odds and making a new place respect you.”
“Can I say this? Number one, baseball in the United States of America starts with relationship of father to son. Ya hear me? Starts with the relationship of father to son. My father played baseball with myself and my brother. The understanding of the game and team and sportsmanship, all of that starts there. The bond between me and my dad was the fact that there was baseball to be explained…
When you have the eradication of the black community and the destruction of black fatherhood for whatever reasons it might be… There was 100,000 black men in prison in 1970, and there’s well over a million and a half now in U.S. prisons. Go explain that. If you take the father away from the son, you’re going to have a lot of missing [opportunities for] explaining how we should work together as a team, how the game is played with nine people, how the pace of the game seems slow to the [uninformed] watcher, but it’s really fast when you understand.”
Reporters have been discussing baseballs dwindling popularity among black viewers since the early 90’s. Since 1986, the percentage of black players in Major League Baseball has halved, dropping from 19 percent to 8.5. Interestingly enough, the percentage of black viewers almost matches the number of black players; in 2013, only 9% of MLB’s audience were African American. According to the stats, baseball is a sport that’s watched almost exclusively by white men.