There has been a lot of talk lately about baseball’s diversity problem. The front offices and top executive ranks are filled with likeminded people of a particular demographic: white men from affluent backgrounds from Ivy League schools.
This isn’t just liberal pinkos like me discussing it. Major League Baseball itself has cited diversity in its management ranks as a top priority. To its credit, the league itself believes this to be a problem. And a lot of effort, unfortunately fruitless so far, has been spent talking about how to fix it. I contend it has been fruitless because MLB is trying to fix a problem without appreciating its true cause.
Today, however, Atlanta Braves GM John Coppolella explained why baseball’s front offices are a rich white boys club. He didn’t mean to, but he did so. And he did it quite succinctly. It only took him one tweet. It came in response to a question from someone asking for career advice for a recent college graduate with college baseball analytics and operations experience:
“Don’t worry about the money,” because baseball’s entry level jobs pay horribly. That, in turn, forces away everyone who actually needs to make a living and pay for the expensive education baseball front office jobs demand these days. Which, in turn, leaves all of the entry-level baseball jobs for people who can afford to not worry about money. Rich kids who, demographically speaking, skew white.
I don’t believe that baseball teams discriminate when it comes to the candidates they are considering. Their parsimonious compensation practices do it for them, preventing a ton of qualified candidates from even bothering to apply given that they’ll be expected to work for free or something close to it for a long, long time.
Baseball is a private business and it can pay its entry level employees whatever it wants to, of course. But if they do, they shouldn’t scratch their head about why they have such a diversity problem. One of their top people just explained it in fewer than 140 characters.