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Americans Investing in Dominican Baseball Academies

November 18, 2010

Baseball academies in the Dominican Republic are a well known establishment. They take in young players and train them in their quest to reach the major leagues. Teams set up academies and so do Dominicans. Now, Americans are investing in the enterprise. This is good and well if you believe that the kids are benefitted – remember, they are 13 to 19 years old, but many believe that the academies are not in the best interest of the players and are set up to exploit them.

Huge signing bonuses for a player pool that is not limited or restricted by the MLB draft fuel the investments, but we must examine if this is any different than what other sports do around the world. For instance, a piece in The New York Times Magazine profiled Dutch soccer academies and painted them to be grueling and cutthroat places. The difference between the Ajax academies mentioned in the piece and the Dominican academies is that the children in The Netherlands still attend school and get an education while playing. Critics of the Dominican academies worry about the children and their future, regardless of whether they make the major leagues or not. One investor in the piece is quoted and seems to think of an education as a secondary element to training and working on baseball. Major League Baseball must patrol these academies and must make sure that they’re living up to the ethical standards that the league wants to portray. MLB has done a good job eradicating cheating and steroids, now it’s time to tackle the arguably more important problem of how the labor force is treated. Perhaps, this is something that the MLBPA will want to work on as well.

– Jason

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