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"How racial bias can seep into baseball scouting reports"

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#1 ashbury


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Posted 12 June 2020 - 08:58 AM



This is a good read - I don't know whether folks will find a paywall (Boston Globe) in the way.


A couple of snippets from the intro:

“The scouting community has its vocabulary. It has its jargon that it uses to paint the picture. If you’re African-American, if you’re attuned to language, you can read a report and nine times out of 10 you can tell if the player is African-American, a minority, or not."


"Disclaimers apply. Plenty of scouts work hard to avoid lapsing into stereotypes, and individual reports may not show bias. But concern exists that at organizational and perhaps even industry levels, biases may contribute to systemic inequalities."



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#2 Thegrin


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Posted 12 June 2020 - 10:05 AM

Of course people have bias'. Sometimes those bias; are racial.It should come as no surprise that some scouts might display heir bias' in their scouting reports. So what?Any organization that allows these bias to affect their selection of players deserves to lose.

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#3 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 12 June 2020 - 10:16 AM

Of course people have bias'. Sometimes those bias; are racial.It should come as no surprise that some scouts might display heir bias' in their scouting reports. So what?Any organization that allows these bias to affect their selection of players deserves to lose.

Sure there is bias; maybe we all have bias, and not all teams can finish with 0-162 win-loss record at the end of the season. Do you have any thoughts on what Huntington said?
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#4 mlhouse


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Posted 12 June 2020 - 08:19 PM

 If you look for racism you will find racism.  

#5 Nine of twelve

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Posted 13 June 2020 - 06:15 AM


 If you look for racism you will find racism.  

That's because it's so pervasive that people often don't notice it, even when it's obvious.

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#6 USAFChief


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Posted 14 June 2020 - 07:52 PM

If you look for racism you will find racism.

And of course, if you dont look, you wont find any.
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#7 The Wise One

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Posted 15 June 2020 - 08:48 AM

So you can tell by a scout's wording the race of the person. I did not see any way that there is a documentation for are there less professional opportunities for the players. College may be a different issue since except for elite players, a player has to pay to play, and have the grades to get in and stay in. The college part is a whole different societal problem than the scout's wording

#8 Tomj14


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Posted 15 June 2020 - 09:49 AM

First I will say that I believe racism exists in baseball and life, simple as that.

But quite a few examples that they stated in the article are not racist.


“When you have a private hitting instructor, private pitching instructor, you work at a facility since you’re 13, you’re going to be more advanced and have an advantage to be more polished over some other guys who don’t,” said a National League executive who, like others interviewed, declined to be named in order avoid speaking on behalf of their organizations.


That is 100% about money, if you think only blacks can't afford private instruction, that is on you. similar to if somebody says the word thug and the first thing that comes to your mind is a black person, that makes you the racist not the person that said it, since they could be talking about people of all different color.(just so I don't offend people the person that said it could be racist as well)


“[Black players] may come from places where they don’t get the opportunity to play year-round with the expensive travel ball teams and things of that nature where there are guys polishing their skills year-round, as well as maybe they’re spending time playing other sports and it doesn’t allow them to be as polished at baseball.”


again 100% about having the money to afford that.



"We’re talking through a player, a white kid at Duke, and no one says a peep. When there’s a Black high school kid, someone asks, ‘What do we know about the makeup of this guy?’ Just the mere assumption that that’s a question is an inherent bias in my mind.”


The only way this is racist is if those same people don't ask the same questions if the roles are reversed.



Most of the first part of the article I can agree with, you shouldn't only use certain terms/words because of skin color. You can be white, athletic, weak and raw. Just as you can be black polished and have a high baseball IQ.


Scouts or really anybody should be using the same terms/words for players regardless of skin color, then they can accurately scout players and create the best team/organization. 


But I think we probably can agree baseball and most sports are hardest for those that socioeconomically disadvantaged.


#9 Trov


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Posted 15 June 2020 - 02:58 PM

First, I could go extremely deep about how everyone judges people the second you see them, and you will use all information you have to make that judgement, it is built into our brains.Similarly we do same thing when we deal with animals.For example, some who was bit by a dog most likely will be afraid of dogs, or if they saw a dog bite someone.They can get over it but when they see a dog they will remember the fear of the bite.  


Similar when we see a human we will take all information we have at the time and make a judgment call.We will look at hair, skin color, clothes, if they smile, if they frown, how do they walk, sound of voice.All those things will go into our initial judgment of the situation.The less information we have the hesitant we will be.Where racial bias becomes an issue is when the color of the skin, or religion they follow, fills in holes of information and the person will not look past those things at actual information about that person.  


For example.In our country there is the misconception that black people are more violent then white people, or that white people are more intelligent, and generally black people are more athletic.So if you get a report says Player is extremely raw and athletic, with concerns he has attitude problems and outbursts.Many not be very coach able.Many people will think black, and person writing it may be talking about a black person.Now for this particular player it may be true all those things, but if that is just being written because of the assumption sole based on skin color there is a huge problem.Now, if the scouting report is backed up by video showing the "raw tools"and the player has been ejected from several games because of outbursts and his coaches had to kick him off teams because the player never listened, then the report is accurate. 


The question that is important, is how does the team reading the report look at it.Does it have the follow up info or is it solely based on the scouts bias of skin color and just assumes he is that way.Really, you need to talk to the players and get to know them.Very little can be learned by watching some video and talking just others. 


There is biasness in all areas of the country, I could go on for a very long time on this.So of course it is in scouting in baseball.It was still not that long ago that black players were assumed to be uneducated and not smart enough for certain positions or coaching positions, and I am sure some front offices still think that way.  



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Posted 15 June 2020 - 03:52 PM

Did any of you actually read the article, or are just commenting on the title thinking you know what all it said? Just finding it difficult to respond to the article and the posts at the same time.
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#11 biggentleben


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Posted 17 June 2020 - 07:37 PM


Did any of you actually read the article, or are just commenting on the title thinking you know what all it said? Just finding it difficult to respond to the article and the posts at the same time.

On a scouting site, we had a very good internal discussion among staff about this piece. It made us review our own draft coverage with a fine-tooth comb to assess just where we might have let fly with comments that we weren't intending to be racist but certainly are.

One of the better revelations out of spending a week talking with black and African-American friends to prepare an op-ed piece for our local paper was the discussion with the father of a former teammate, a man who served in both conflicts in Iraq. He stated that each and every one of us is racist, to some degree. Once we accept that about the mirror and begin to work on the mirror, we can begin to address and assist the world around us in doing the same. Incredibly, I'd heard the same speech once before, nearly word for word, from the man who mentored me in scouting. He's got Latin roots in his blood that most wouldn't notice, but he's aware of it and he gave me the same exact discussion when writing up reports with me and choosing player comps and describing body styles. I like to lean on that advice, and this piece had some obvious discussion of where that still can be found in the game - heck, look at OOTP baseball, and you'll see some of the same crap in the descriptors of players within the game.

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