Andrew McCutchen is a MVP, multiple time All-Star, Gold Glove Winner, and maybe most important of all – ambassador. You see, the man who has earned the nickname “Clutch” over the years and cemented himself as one of the brightest stars in baseball isn’t just recognizable for his dreadlocks or big smile, he is also one of the few black players in the major leagues. Last year in the MLB, black players only represented 8.3% of players on opening day rosters according to this New York Times article.
While this isn’t exactly breaking news, it’s still a staggering number and one that might seem a bit curious if you haven’t been paying attention. Baseball players get the richest contracts among all sports which would seemingly be a major motivating factor in people’s decisions to opt to play baseball over other sports. But McCutchen sheds some light on to why the number might be as low as it is in his fantastic self-written article in The Players’ Tribune.
I thought I was going to play college football. Why? Economics. If I could’ve been a wide receiver for a D-I school, I would have chosen that path because of the promise of a full scholarship. The University of Florida offered me a baseball scholarship, but it only covered 70 percent of the tuition. My family simply couldn’t afford the other 30 percent. The fact is, no matter how good you are, you’re not getting a full ride in baseball.
The way that the scholarship crunch works in baseball, it requires coaches to give out partial scholarships, with the athletes on the hook for the rest of the tuition and expenses that they may not be able to afford. Talented athletes are forced to make a decision early on which often times is driven by whether they might be able to afford that economic burden that isn’t covered by the scholarship in the future. So instead of putting in all the hard work and effort to maybe have to turn down your dream because of their financial situation, they often choose to pursue sports like football and basketball instead where the scholarships are fully guaranteed.
That quote is just a small piece of the larger article written by McCutchen that is truly fantastic. He tells his own personal story and his path to stardom, and it wasn’t nearly as conventional as one might think. I strongly encourage you all to go read it as it is definitely inspirational and eye opening. You can read the rest of the article here, and be sure to check out some of the other great things they are doing over at the The Player’s Tribune.