Like Jamal, I too have spent my share of time around youth baseball fields. Like Gary Sheffield I too have seen a decline of young black men playing baseball, foregoing America’s once favorite past time for track, football and basketball. Different from Sheffield (who finds sinister motives), I have a “Who cares?” attitude.

Why do Hispanics tend to play baseball versus Black and White people? I would guess that since people living in Central America can play baseball 12 months a year they can get pretty good at the game, while in the northern United States, where baseball is pretty much a 4 or 5 months a year sport, we do not get enough playing time.

Another reason perhaps? My sons (who are White) both excelled at baseball. They both quit because the game was too slow for them. They have both focused on football and track. They like to run. Maybe American’s like faster sports.

My sons have gone to many AAU meets in Michigan, Ohio and even in Louisiana. We are always a vast minority.  And you know what, I like it. (Though it did take a while to get used to.) Being White, I am always in the majority, except at AAU track meets.  The Black people we have met around the country are very accepting of us. They are polite. They are friendly. They are welcoming.

I would encourage more people to join AAU Track and Field, regardless of the color of your skin. Learn to run – fast. Learn how much it hurts your whole body when you sprint 400 meters as hard as you can – really much harder than you really want to, but since you don’t want to lose, you push even harder. When your arms hurt because you ran so hard, you’ll know you are a true track athlete.

And please, learn to ignore the Gary Sheffield‘s of the world, who want to find problems where there is joy. Learn to celebrate every color, every culture and every person.