Baseball’s New Interpreters - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Baseball’s New Interpreters

An apt definition of a multiculturalist is someone who tries to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and in the process creates real problems.

Case in point is Major League Baseball which, with the support of the players union, announced that beginning with the 2016 baseball season every Major League team will be required to supply a full-time Spanish language interpreter for its players. One questions the necessity of such action, as the integration of the Spanish-speaking player in Major League Baseball has been a rousing success till now. In 2013 it was calculated that over 28% of Major League players on opening day rosters were foreign born, with the overwhelming majority coming from Latin America. Nor is this a new phenomenon. Latin American ballplayers have been excelling on the baseball diamond for many generations now.

Prior to this season, teams used a variety of methods to help foreign-born Latino players learn English. The old school way was fairly simple but effective as the player would learn the language by the day to day activity of playing baseball and traveling with his teammates during the course of the long season. Were the results perfect? Of course not. Some players took longer than others to learn, and a few never quite got the hang of it. But that is true in any endeavor in life, and for the overwhelming majority of players, life without an interpreter worked out fine. The numbers don’t lie. By any measure, the Latin America player is thriving in Major League Baseball.

Perhaps not seeing the irony of their action, Major League Baseball and the players union for the last 30 years have lamented quite publicly and loudly their disappointment in the lack of non-whites in leadership positions such as team managers and those who run the teams’ baseball operations, such as general managers. But by mandating full time interpreters, Major League Baseball has unwittingly delayed the immersion of the Latin American player in an essential skill that one needs to reach the pinnacle of leadership in Major League Baseball: the ability to speak English fluently.

Think of it this way. The baseball manager and executive of tomorrow will have a distinct advantage if he can speak both English and Spanish fluently. This, in theory, would give the Latin American player better odds to get such a position over, say, an American born candidate who only speaks English and perhaps a few Spanish phrases. But as Major League Baseball now makes it easier for players not to speak English, in the long run this decision will reduce the pool of Latin American players who upon retirement from the playing field will be able to find an executive or managerial position within Major League Baseball.

All this is reminiscent of the situation American public schools now face. In the 1974 case Lau v. Nichols, the Supreme Court helped set in motion that all school districts receiving federal funds had to establish multi-lingual programs. The result of these good intentions has not been impressive. In 2005, thirty years after this decision, Pew Hispanic Center research showed that foreign-born teens were still three times more likely to drop out of school than native-born children.

When the Justice Department reports that nearly 10% of all U.S. public school children need to be taught English, and then you read that Lafayette High School in Buffalo, New York has 580 students and needs to accommodate 42 different languages, you realize what a mess we have made. One seriously doubts that school districts across the country have the resources, both fiscally and structurally, to handle such challenges. It also makes politicians laughable when they promise to raise American students’ rankings in standardized test vs. international students under such circumstances. Nor does anyone seem to answer what other educational opportunities American students must forgo to accommodate the cost and time a school district has to invest in English language immersion.

Multiculturalists, I’m sure, are the first to howl of any Donald Trump-like talk of building a wall along the border and are quick to brandish anyone as a racist if they question any aspect of the current immigration policy. But in a sense, multiculturalists are master wall builders themselves and have constructed hundreds of invisible but real cultural walls that continue to provide negative consequences for both native and naturalized America citizens.

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