Spectacle, Distance, and Threat: Attendance and Integration of Major League Baseball, 1930–1961

in Sociology of Sport Journal
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We examine the effect of the visibility of African American, Latino, and Jewish baseball players on attendance at Major League Baseball games between 1930 and 1961. We invoke the sociological concepts of “social distance,” “spectacle,” and “group threat” and incorporate data focusing on the era of integration to expand on previous research in this arena. Notably, African American and Latino player visibility—but not that of other groups—is revealed to increase attendance at games. This effect weakens for losing teams and in cities with relatively larger minority populations. The findings suggest a synthesis of theories is possible.

Breckenridge is with Wake Forest University, P.O. Box 7808—Reynolda Station, Winston-Salem, NC 27109, breckers@wfu.edu; Goldsmith is with the Department of Sociology, Bolton Hall 716, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, PO Box 413, Milwaukee WI 53201-0413, goldsmith@uvm.edu.

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