We’ve talked in the past about how most if not all Japanese players tend to have dedicated interpreters when they play in the United States but Spanish-speaking players don’t and are usually forced to either rely on teammates or team employees to step in at times. Or, more often, how Spanish speakers are simply expected to learn the language and try to work their way through interviews and the like.
As Billy Witz reports in the New York Times today, however, that may be about to change:
Major League Baseball has been working with the players’ union on an initiative this season to encourage every team to have a Spanish-speaking interpreter to help players communicate with the largely English-speaking news media in their native language.
This makes perfect sense. As I noted last year, ballplayers are often asked loaded questions from a press corps that is always looking for gaffes and controversies. It’s difficult enough for native English speakers to navigate that stuff, but the 22 percent of native Spanish speakers in the game certainly have a harder time with it.
In the past, the language barrier has often been used, subconsciously or otherwise, to imply that the player in question is not bright or not as engaged or thoughtful as his English-speaking counterparts. Or, in some cases which we still see to this day, the Spanish-speaking player is portrayed as separate from the rest of his teammates and somehow not as integral to the team’s success as the English speakers are. Not because of the baseball facts, but because the reporters simply can’t or don’t communicate with them and tell their stories.
Good for Major League Baseball and the union for working on this.
(Thanks to Jake for the heads up)