I don't think you'll ever see the trend reverse in the USA, sadly. That's why so much talent is coming through places like the Dominican Republic now. Their kids aren't sitting around texting each other and playing games on smartphones all day.
Also here is the direct link to a Jimmy Rollins interview the article references. I think he makes a lot of good points and offers a great deal of insight.
Here's what I don't get: "Blacks" are ~13% of the U.S. population. What is MLB's target % of blacks in professional baseball?
If you look at just American-born players in MLB, blacks are almost perfectly proportionately represented. That Hispanic and Asian players from overseas are "taking jobs" from Americans is the source of the ethnicity "problem", if you want to think of this way.
And if you want to suggest that baseball should look like professional football or basketball, I'd suggest a whole different kind of racism is going on.
The Keown article brought up the subject of youth baseball where you have travel teams and that makes the cost of it somewhat prohibitive for African American youths. However, don't AAU teams in basketball pretty much do the same thing? Is there a difference?
I dont think this is a "problem" If more black people are trending to other sports whats the big deal.
I dont see the NBA making a big deal or making an effort to get more white americans in the game. I dont see it as a problem either.
But the ethnicity angle makes it seem like a racial issue when it's actually a socio-economic one. And setting the optics aside, thinking it's a racial issue when it's not really a racial issue might suggest the wrong "solution".
Just wait, MLB is going to come to the conclusion that the problem is that the sport isn't culturally appealing to urban kids and will tell teams to run more promotions with hip hop and rap artists. And as a league, they'll do a little more marketing. And the reason they'll come to that conclusion is because it's basically free and makes it look like they're doing something.
As you point out, the real solution involves 10s of millions of dollars funding traveling leagues and there's no way the owners spring for that out of their own pockets.
Whites made up 28% of the NBA in 1990. 17% very recently. Sounds like committee time.
The poor and lower middle class have gotten poorer. Black people are more likely to be lower income. A baseball game takes a lot of infrastructure. 18 kids need gloves, a field, bats, balls, helmets, etc. Basketball is a lot more accessible.
The drop from a high of 20%-27% to the current 8% (approx) is alarming, and I don't really have a problem with it being "seriously looked into." It's not nearly as popular of a sport as it used to be in the AA community, but why exactly?
Any brand/business takes losing such a large portion of a demographic over time seriously, especially when so many of their greatest players over time have been black. They investigate it, hire people to improve it.
It's not as if a racial quota is being implemented, but I sense that is where fearful folks go to immediately, without taking the issue more seriously.
The next time you are at a major league game, look around and count the black fans in the stadium. GABP isn't exactly a diverse place. It seems like that is where MLB should start its campaign.
My kids didn't play baseball like that. The version they played, with uniforms, pitching machines, equipment, organization, etc., was much more expensive and perhaps less accessible. Pick up basketball is easier to do.