University Study Finds No Evidence of Racial Discrimination by Major League Baseball Umpires

umpire-mdA new study by researchers at the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois, and the University of Florida disputes the findings of earlier research published in the American Economic Review that suggested that Major League Baseball umpires discriminated in favor of pitchers of their same race in making calls for balls and strikes.

The new study examined ball and strike calls for millions of pitches between 1997 and 2008. The study used new data and reexamined the data from the previous study.

Jason Winfree, associate professor of sports management at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and a co-author of the study, states, “Based on what we found, it’s (discrimination) certainly not conclusive, and we could make an argument that there’s actually reverse discrimination if you look only at averages. Our point is that with something like this you want to look at the data a lot of different ways and see if you get a consistent result each time with each method. It’s a pretty bold claim to say there is racial discrimination.”

The study appears on the website of the Journal of Sports Economics and may be accessed here.


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