Opinion February 16, 2016 | 2:26 pm

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Issue arising in Dominican amateur baseball

Special for Dominican Today

Baseball has become an essentialpart of the Dominican Republic culture. It’s everywhere across the country. Asone person described it, “that was the way it went in the Dominican Republic:Baseball found us” (Knopper, 2015). Everywhere you go in the country, baseballhas impacted the community in some way. But there is a severe lack of interestand support for baseball by Dominican women. The Dominican Republic Ministry ofSport, Physical Education and Recreation, otherwise known as El Ministerio deDeportes y Recreación, is making strides to peak the interest of Dominicanwomen towards the game of baseball. In a recent panel discussion with officialsfrom the Ministry of Sport, our class was informed that they are making a hugepush to include girls in youth leagues across the country (Visit to Ministeriode Deportes y Recreación). This is to further the involvement of women in allsports across the country by starting with the most popular sport in thecountry, baseball.

I believe it is necessary thatfemales learn to play baseball as much as males do in the Dominican Republic.In order to integrate women into the sport of baseball, it is essential thatthey do it in gender-segregated teams and leagues. As a young woman whobelieves many men and women should and do have equal athletic potential, Iunderstand that this is a hard concept to wrap your head around. Wouldn’t you wantto try and integrate boys and girls together in sport to help them learn toplay together and respect one another? Well, that’s just a romanticized notion.At this point in time, the majority of males and females are still not sociallyready to fully accept one another as equals when it pertains to athletics aswell as social settings. Baseball is still a mans sport in the Dominican, andit will take time and effort to integrate women fully into the game.

Men began playing baseball in theDominican Republic during their free time while working in the sugar caneindustry in the early turn of the 20th century (Klein, 2014). With whateverequipment they could find, men across the country began falling in love withthe game of baseball. And they became very good at it. As of Opening Day 2014,the Dominican Republic lead Major League Baseball in the United States (MLB)with 83 players from outside the United States (MLB.com,2014). The next largest is Venezuelans at 59, whom many tend to train in theDominican Republic MLB Academies (MLB.com,2014).

When my class attended the LigaRudy Ramirez and Daniel Portorreal youth league, there wasn’t one girl in a seaof hundreds of Dominican boys ready to play the game of baseball. Withouthesitating, I grabbed a bat ready to take my turn at the plate. As I was takingwarm ups, a couple of Dominican men stared at me. They then asked “do youplay baseball?” referring to me being a woman. I laughed it off and told themyes, as they became immediately shocked as well as impressed. They told me thatgirls do not play where they are from and they were taken back that I was sogood and experienced in the game. This was one of the first times I realizedhow little involvement females have in Dominican baseball. I noticed whenattending games at the Quisqueya Stadium, which the Dominicanwomen sitting around us did not seem as into the game as the men did. Only afew wore a hat or shirt to support their team, and hardly any were standing upand cheering unless the man they were with did so as well. Not one woman couldbe spotted in the Licey Managers office. This shows that women have not startedto work their way up in the sport business world either. The only place wherethere were women working was in the MLB Commissioners office, the most UnitedStates American style place we visited.

In a study conducted by Lisa DiDonatoand JoNell Strough on gender-segregation in the workplace as well as socialsettings, data findings show that men and women feel more comfortable workingin same-sex groupings: “the majority of close friends nominated by both womenand men were same-gender peers, but men nominated relatively more same-genderfriends than did women” (DiDonato & Strough, p. 1, 2013). This proves thatmen, even more than women, are not yet ready to fully integrate in workingenvironments with women. “These findings underscore that gender segregation isnot only a phenomenon of childhood, but a persistent phenomenon across the lifespan” (DiDonato & Strough, p. 15, 2013).

Another study was conducted withphysical education classes. This focuses solely on youth gender differences,around the same age that the Ministry of Sport plans to start integrating girlsonto currently male-dominated baseball teams. The study came to the conclusionthat when physical education students were to play games of basketball onsingle-sex teams and another group were to play on co-ed teams, females inparticular had higher game involvement in the single-sex environment thanfemales who only participated in co-ed games (Pritchard, McCollum, Sundal &Colquit, 2014). I believe this is due to the integration of both boys and girlsinto one sport. Boys tend to think they are stronger and more powerful thangirls, so they might not pass to them as much. On the contrary, girls feelinferior and may take less chances when on the co-ed team.

One of the most interesting factsabout female history in the Dominican Republic, is that they essentially leadthe Dominican Resistance against the dictator Trujillo. The Mirabal sisters arefamous for being the “butterflies” of their generation, sparking conversationand resistance against the Trujillo Regime. Eventually most of the sisters werekilled for their resistance support (Alvarez, 1994). But when you walk thestreets of the Dominican, it is as though people have forgotten how much womenhave done for their country. Walking up and down the Condé in Santo Domingo,you can see and hear men hiss at women to acknowledge their beauty and refer towomen as, in my opinion, derogatory names (Explore historic zone with yourFunctional Leadership Team). Women in the Dominican are clearly not as acceptedas they should be. As observed first hand, they are treated as lower levelcitizens compared to men. A superiority effect is felt when watching aninteraction between a man and a woman when walking around the country. Womenare not respected well enough in the Dominican at this point in time to be ableto throw them into a game dominated by the power of men. It is just not theright time and place to do it.

I believe it is in the countriesbest interest to get women involved in the game of baseball in other ways. Anarticle published by USA Hockey highlights why it is important for many girlsto play on girls-only teams:

Playing with female peers may beimportant for many young girls to feel like they fit in. They may have fewer self-esteemissues playing with their peers than with boys who may tease them. USA Hockey’s most recent growth and retentionstudies found 54% of 8U girlsplayers quit the game before they progress to the 10U level. There are several reasons for this, including the factthat girls are social beings – they may play on an all-girls team because they want to play with their friendsor sisters or because the boys may intimidatethem (p. 2)

For many feminists, this articleis enraging. But it’s the truth. Our society, both in the United States andeven more in the Dominican Republic, has yet to accept and integrate men andwomen into a coerce environment where the two feel 100% comfortable together.At the Pitch Hit and Run Clinic in the sugar cane field, three groups ofDominican kids were formed to complete the tasks at hand. Two groups were 100%boys and one group was 100% girls. They were not told which group to go to,they naturally created their own groups without any of the baseball ambassadorsinstructing them to do so. This shows that there is already a precedent in thegame of baseball that boys are to playwith boys and girls are to play with girls.

That is how I believe theintegration of women into baseball should start out. Females need to feelcomfortable in the game before they are thrown into an environment where theywill most likely not be welcome by all. Youth leagues should have one teamspecifically for girls. Once that is established, female only teams can be introducedat higher levels bringing even more interest and commitment from females to thegame.

Women must become accepted asequal in general Dominican politics and society before they can become acceptedin sport. The Ministry of Sport must integrate women into baseball at a slowand steady pace. It will not happen over night. It took centuries for men ofcolor to become accepted and allowed into the game in the United States(Raceball, 2011). It will take just as long for women to become accepted in theDominican. A study on the integration of women into sport also notes the 1947integration of people of color into Major League Baseball and how it was “bitterlyresisted at the time” (Travers, 2008). This is only the beginning of thefeminist movement to integrate women into the working world of men. Socialchange takes time, so in the mean time it is vital to keep the interest aliveby separating women onto single-sex teams so they feel comfortable yet stillpassionate about the game we all know and love.

Word Count: 1605

Works Cited:

Alvarez, J. (1994). In the Timeof the Butterflies. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Didonato, L., & Strough, J.(2013). Contextual influences on gender segregation in emerging adulthood. Sex Roles, 69 (11-12),632-643. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/ s11199-013-0312-1

Klein, Alan. Introduction.Dominican Baseball: New Pride, Old Prejudice. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2014. (1-15)

Knopper, S. (2015, October 29).The Lure of Baseball in the Dominican Republic. Retrieved February 07, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/01/travel/dominican-republic- baseball.html

MLB.com.2014 Opening Day Rosters Feature 224 Players Born Outside the U.S. (2014, April 1). Retrieved February07, 2016, from http://m.mlb.com/news/article/70623418/2014- opening-day-rosters-feature-224-players-born-outside-the-us

Pritchard, T., McCollum, S.,Sundal, J., & Colquit, G. (2014). Effect of the Sport Education Tactical Model on Coeducational andSingle Gender Game Performance. Physical Educator, 71(1), 132-154.

Ruck,Rob. Chapter 7 “New CaribbeanCurrents.” Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game. Boston: Beacon, 2011.(143-71).

Travers, A. (2008). The sportnexus and gender injustice. Studies in Social Justice, 2(1), 79-n/a. Retrieved from https://ezproxy.elon.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/ 1315920996?accountid=10730

Experiences

Guided Tour of Santa Domingo viabus

Pitch, Hit, and Run activity atthe matey with kids in the cane field

Meeting with Manny Acta, Licey GM

Visit to Liga Rudy Ramirez/Daniel Portorreal Youth League, Meeting with league administrators, andafternoon “game” with kids

Visit Centro Olimpico- Meetingwith officials of the Ministero de Deportes y Recreation

Baseball Game: Licey vs. Escogido

Explore historic zone with yourFunctional Leadership Team (FLT)

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