One reason for the steady decline of African Americans in Major League Baseball that Gene Seymour neglected to mention [“Fade to White,” November 2/9] is the overwhelming number of football and basketball scholarships offered by colleges and universities, compared with the paucity of those for baseball. The football and basketball scholarships offer a huge incentive for Black athletes (and their parents) to steer toward those sports. It’s hardly the only reason, but given the number of players who are drafted by MLB teams out of college, it’s definitely not a minor factor.
When baseball was reaching its peak of African American participation in the 1970s and early ’80s, college football and basketball, especially in the South and Southwest, were still overwhelmingly white. It wasn’t until the mid-’70s that this began to change in large numbers, and since the early ’80s, there has been an almost perfect inverse correlation between the percentages of Black players in college football and basketball and their percentage in Major League Baseball. I can’t see this as nothing but a coincidence.
I was honored to be noticed in these pages by someone whose work I have long admired, Katha Pollitt, who in “Settling Out of Court” [November 2/9] responded to my thoughts on the future of abortion rights, given that Amy Coney Barrett would soon join the Supreme Court. If I ruled the world, Roe v. Wade would be nonnegotiable. But I do not. As a longtime abortion rights supporter, I stated clearly in my New York Times op-ed that I regret the passing of Roe. I also consider it a done deal, either through the Supreme Court’s current death-by-a-thousand-cuts gutting of Roe or by an outright overruling.
Pollitt asks what the 850,000 people per year who now get abortions will do after Roe. They will do what far too many women do now: travel. We need to mobilize to help them and follow the example of Women on Waves, a group of Dutch activists and doctors who loaded a drone with abortion pills and flew it to Poland, where abortion is illegal and an estimated 50,000 underground abortions occur each year. I explored potential silver linings of an overruling of Roe not because I want it—I said clearly I did not—but because I consider it inevitable. Yes, as Pollitt says, every state legislative session will become a battleground over women’s rights (as they already are over racism and workers’ rights). Let’s get on with it.
Re “Stephen F. Cohen” by Katrina vanden Heuvel [October 19/26]: I always knew my radio interviews with Steve would be filled with wisdom, because he had a sense of history and was never afraid to challenge any shibboleth. Friend, scholar-activist, deep thinker, and wonderful orator—Steve Cohen, rest with the giants.