Here’s Why Harold Reynolds Was Wrong About Canadians And Baseball
Honest question: What's wrong with saying a population that doesn't play a particular sport isn't likely to have the skills associated with said sport? People who grew up in Haiti probably aren't very good on skates, right? Latvians probably don't intuitively know how to string a lacrosse stick, right? Your average Greenlander probably can't throw a tight spiral, right? So why was Harold Reynolds' offhanded comment about Canadians not being to catch baseballs met with an icy-northern resistance?
Here's what he said during the Rangers-Blue Jays ALDS Game 2:
"We we're talking about foul balls in the stands up in Toronto and because there's not a lot of people who grew up playing baseball in Canada, they're not used to catching a lot of balls hit into the stands."
Ready to get your mind blown? Canadians play baseball at roughly the same rate as Americans. Ya, believe it.
Obviously, sport-specific participation numbers vary state-to-state, with rural areas seeing greater youth baseball activity while urban areas skew more toward basketball -- you knew this much. What you didn't know, however, is that when it comes to baseball, America's youth participation is almost identical to that of Canada. Among kids between the ages of 4-18, both countries have seen a precipitous drop-off in baseball participation since the early 90s. How much? Roughly a 1% decline per year.
The Wall Street Journal cites the percentage of kids ages 6-18 playing organized baseball in 2014 at a shade above 6%. The Canadian government's most recent report on youth baseball participation (in 2005) had there's around 5%. Perhaps the historical peak of youth baseball participation varied more between the two nations -- there undoubtedly was a significant difference in the 1940s -- but the numbers haven't been all that different for decades. Ergo, most Canadians at the Roger's Centre on Friday could catch foul balls just well/poorly as Americans. Got that Harold?
Your homework assignment is to watch these two minor league Canadian hockey players have a catch in their natural habitat and write a one-page apology.
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