SBD/16/Sports Society

MLB QUESTIONS ESPN'S MINORITY FIGURES; SHOW REVIEWS MIXED

          Acting MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said baseball's
     minority hiring practices are better than what was portrayed
     during ESPN's Town Meeting on Tuesday, "Race & Sports:
     Running in Place?," according to USA TODAY's Tom Weir.
     Selig: "While Major League Baseball wasn't the focus of the
     meeting, I thought there were some unwarranted shots taken,
     particularly by those that were not aware of the facts." 
     During the discussion, Joe Morgan criticized the low number
     of black scouts in MLB.  But MLB Dir of PR Rich Levin cited
     an in-house survey that showed 24.64% of MLB's scouts are
     minorities and that minorities account for 20.5% of MLB's
     front-office presence.  ESPN "declined to divulge its
     minority-hiring numbers" (USA TODAY, 4/16).
          TOWN MEETING REVIEWS: In Dallas, Kevin Blackistone
     writes that ESPN "deserves credit for bringing the
     discussion to prime time," but calls the 11-member panel's
     makeup "as stereotypical as the discussion."  He notes that
     all the black participants were athletes or former athletes
     and all the white participants either owners or execs.  He
     adds that the panel should have included either Northeastern
     Univ.'s Richard Lapchick or Univ. of CA-Berkeley's Harry
     Edwards (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 4/16).  In DC, Leonard Shapiro
     calls the panel "cumbersome" and adds that there "were no
     bold initiatives offered, no battle plan to attack" the
     problems of racism that were discussed (WASHINGTON POST,
     4/16).  In San Jose, Ann Killion said the "flawed" panel
     "yielded little of substance and broke little ground"
     (MERCURY NEWS, 4/16).  In Sacramento, R.E. Graswich wrote
     the event was "predictably long on timid rhetoric and self-
     congratulatory blather. ... It was compelling for no more
     than a couple of minutes" (SACRAMENTO BEE, 4/15).  But in
     Orange County, Jeff Miller credited ESPN for the production
     and added, "This talk was healthy for no other reason than
     the fact it was happening, it was live and right there in
     your living room" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 4/15).  In
     Philadelphia, Mike Bruton says ESPN's telecast led to a
     "productive evening because millions of viewers got a chance
     to hear civilized discussion of a complicated and highly
     charged issue" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 4/16).  
          CYBER-POLL: ESPN SportsZone surveyed browsers in its
     special section on "Race & Sports," linked off the site's  
     homepage.  When asked, "How much more aggressive should
     teams be in hiring qualified black coaches?," 57.5% said
     somewhat more, 20.3% said much more, 14.1% said somewhat
     less, 7.9% said much less. 2,049 voted (SportsZone, 4/16). 

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