I didn’t grow up in an MLB city, which means that most of my experience with live baseball is with the minor leagues. I saw Pudge come up, and I was at the game when they announced that Tulo was promoted. I enjoy going to games and appreciated seeing these prospects in training.
I was blindly unaware in years past about the pay and working conditions for minor league players. I didn’t know that team owners were getting rich off of the talent I enjoyed watching for so many years. Or, rather, I didn’t know they were getting rich because they weren’t offering fair pay and benefits to those that were the reason the teams even had a nine to field.
Now, though, I know how the system takes advantage of MiLB players — and as Maya Angelou said: when you know better, you do better. So, I face an ethical quandary today. The nearest baseball to me is again MiLB-affiliated. I could go watch prospects for my beloved Tigers before they head off to Comerica, but should I?
On the one hand, wouldn’t I be contributing to the exploitation of MLB hopefuls — and enriching those taking advantage of them — by going to these games? Can I enjoy drinking beer and eating hot dog sandwiches knowing I spent more than a player’s per diem on my refreshments? Don’t we have a moral obligation to use our money in accordance with our values (mine being pro-labor)?
If we don’t attend MiLB games, though, the players wouldn’t have jobs that allow them to try and move into MLB. Demand spurs supply, but it’s not so good at influencing the means of production. So I’m torn over what to do.
Is there an ethical third way? Should we “adopt” players to whom we give gift cards to supplement their incomes? Should we buy them supplies to help further them? Is that fair? What’s a reasonable workaround?
There has to be a way for patrons to side with players instead of just abetting owners. Doing that matters more to me than showing up to cheer or creating community recreational spaces or whatever other goods come of my attendance.
How do we subvert the graft?