Jackie Robinson’s Influence on Sport and Society

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In the today’s society, all people are said to be created equal, but not so long ago, this statement was false. In America during the 1940’s, blacks were seen as people who were lesser than. This quickly changed due to one person, Jackie Robinson. Robinson was an African-American baseball player in the negro league, and was one of the best. Jackie’s skills led him to be signed by Branch Rickey and the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

Robinson was the first African-American in history to play in the MLB. With Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in professional baseball, he was able to change the game forever. Robinson was seen as a publicity stunt to attract more fans, but what he did his first year changed many opinions about him. In his first year, Jackie Robinson faced lots of discrimination against many teams, and in some cases was not even allowed to stay in team hotels while on the road. Robinson was able to dominate the league in his first year and helped his team win the National League Pennant.

Due to Robinsons domination in the league, he was able to open the door to more African-American athletes in sports. This influence allowed African-Americans and foreign players to be able to play in professional sports like basketball across the nation. Because of his influence, Jackie Robinson was able to transform American sports and society into what they have become today.

Year by year during Robinson’s career, the amount of non-white baseball players in America were noticeably growing. In 1947 Jackie Robinson joined a league that was 98.3% white. With Robinson joining the league, a metaphorical gate opened up for many foreign players. Once this gate was opened, it could not be stopped. According to Bleacher Report, by the time Robinson was retired, the MLB was closing in on having 20% of the leagues players being non-white. This emphasizes how big of an impact that Robinson had on the league. He showed the world how African-Americans and other races are just as talented and equal to whites.

Robinsons talent had now led to a sort of revolution in baseball. Bill Veeck, the Cleveland Indians president described the new trend by saying “[Jackie] Robinson has proved to be a real big leaguer. So I wanted to get the best of the available Negro boys while the grabbing was good. Why wait? Within ten years Negro players will be in regular service with big league teams, for there are many colored players with sufficient capabilities to make the majors.” (BleacherReport.com). This statement by Veeck perfectly summarizes what Robinson’s impact on the league was.

He allowed club presidents to recognize that talent is more important than the color of one’s skin. As said in the statement above, within 10 years African-American players will be regular in the MLB, this displays how Americans opinions change of blacks over Robinson’s career. Their ideology of African-Americans quickly went from seeing them as lesser than to equal in the sports world. With the new trend of African-American baseball players, other sports like basketball became involved with the changes.

Although Robinson had a major effect on the nation, his greatest influence was on the sport he made his name in, baseball. In the MLB, scouts began to see the true talent in non-white players. Early in Robinsons career, teams shifted their scouting to the Negro League and “Sooner or later, all the Negro-league ballplayers noticed the white men in the grandstands. The parks were mostly empty that summer, as fans who once rooted for the Newark Eagles or the New York Cubans or the Homestead Grays shifted their attention to Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers.

So when the white scouts in their rumpled suits plunked themselves down in the good seats behind home plate and started taking notes, everyone with a bat or glove snapped to attention.” (Eig 175). With white scouts showing up to watch African American players shows Robinsons fast effect on the league. Robinsons lasting impact on the sport and people around him led to major sport it has become. Because of Robinsons groundbreaking career, the sport honors him every April 15th, Jackie Robinson day.

On this day every player wears the retired 42 jersey on their back to honor and respect Jackie’s influence on the game. 50 years after Robinson’s debut, The Des Moines Register explains the MOB’s actions to honor Robinsons work in racial equality by saying “Baseball took the unprecedented step Tuesday night – the 50th anniversary of the date Robinson broke the color barrier – by retiring the late Hall of Famers number for all major league teams” (Des Moines Register). This article shows how Robinson still has a lasting effect on the world today and always will. Robinson has transformed not only baseball, but many other American sports as well into what they became in today’s world.

Jackie Robinson set forth the foundation for later generations of equality. Robinson may have made a impact in the nation during his playing days, but his influence after changed the world forever. After Robinson’s career American sports began to grow and evolve rapidly. Soon African-American and foreign players were regulars in major sports like Baseball and Basketball. As fast as Baseball began to grow with African-American players, the NBA did as well. In 1956 a center named Bill Russell was drafted second overall to the Boston Celtics, and the rest was history.

Soon after the NBA was filled with African-American players and became the people that people know and love today. Bill Russell was asked about if he and a high school teammate if they were influenced by Robinson during his career, Russell’s response was “We were both determined to take what Jackie laid out for us, to proceed with it. One of the greatest honors I ever had was to be at his funeral because I had so much respect and regard for him.” (NESN.com). This response that Bill Russell gave is just one example of many about how Jackie Robinson influences more than just the world of baseball. He was able to make a mark on the NBA as well as other sports in America.

Russell was seen as a major turning point in the NBA, giving the sport new hype and clout. If Jackie Robinson never played for the Dodgers, then Bill Russell would have never gotten a shot at the NBA, and never would have changed the sport into what it is now. Robinson is a big factor in the success of the NBA and other sports. Robinsons influence impacted all sports nationwide, like allowing star running back Jim Brown a shot at the NFL and in the acting career.

Basketball was able to grow in the way it did due to Robinsons influence on sports back then. If he never played, people like Bill Russel would have never had the chance to change their sport in the way that they did.

Although Jackie Robinson was a popular athlete, he was also a major key in the civil rights movement. After his baseball career, Robinson was used as a huge example for desegregation in America. He helped lead the movement to give blacks equality in the nation and give them the same chances and opportunities as whites. Jackie Robinson and Martin Luther King were two major political figures on racial equality. The two led the way to desegregation and equality. Martin Luther King “Credited Robinson as a highly visible example of the power of passive resistance to break down racial barriers. ‘Jackie Robinson made it possible for me in the first place,’ he noted. ‘Without him, I never have been able to do what I did.’” (Hillstorm 79).

King explained to the people how he would have never been able to create the impact that he had, if it weren’t for Robinson. Martin Luther King went on to become the most influential civil rights activist this nation has ever seen. This shows how much Robinson influenced American life and its culture just from playing baseball. With the influence Robinson gave to the world, he allowed for more African-American people to have the same opportunities as everyone else. Without Robinson, the nation may never would have had an African-American president in Barack Obama. Robinson left a lasting mark in the nation that is still seen today in everyday life.

Jackie Robinson’s career allowed American sports and society to evolve into what they are in today’s society. Robinson started his career with an average of .297 along with 12 home runs and 48 RBI’s. Although in today’s day and age, these stats would not be stellar, in 1947 the total batting average in the MLB was .261 which was .036 worse than Robinson who was in his first year. Jackie went on to play 10 seasons in the MLB and had a hall of fame career and finished with a total batting average of .311.

As stated before in those 10 years with the Dodgers, the non-white player numbers went from just Jackie Robinson all the way to about 20 percent of the league. That stat summarizes how big of an impact Robinson left on the world. Less than 5 years after Robinson’s debut, Earl Lloyd became the first African-American Basketball player in the NBA, and Jim Brown popularized the NFL, which displays how Jackie Robinson opened doors for athletes in different sports . Without Robinson’s influence the United States of America may have not been able to break the color barrier in society as fast as they did. Jackie was able to open gates to major African-American athletes like Bill Russel, and Wilt Chamberlain.

Because of Robinson, today in sports there are now many ethnicities and races playing on the same field or court. Due to the dominance of Robinson, the nation was able to adapt better with the breaking of the color barrier because of the enjoyment in watching such a good athlete. Now a days people can support players like Lebron James who is he star of Sprite Cranberry commercials, Mookie Betts, and Cam Newton due to Robinson’s contributions to the nations society 70 plus years ago. In today’s society, people are said to be created equal, this statement is now true due to one man, Jackie Robinson.


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Jackie Robinson’s Influence on Sport and Society. (2021, Nov 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/jackie-robinsons-influence-on-sport-and-society/

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