Miami Marlins CEO Derek Jeter has a new proposal to help bring the team closer together: force all players, coaches, and senior executives to learn Spanish. According to Jeter, “Everybody expects the Latin players to make an effort to speak English. Well, especially here in Miami, if you don’t speak Spanish, you don’t fit in. I think it’s important.” That’s not exactly a reason to force your team to learn Spanish.
Yes, Miami does have a high percentage of Latinos. Thanks to the influx of refugees from Cuba after Castro’s takeover, the city of Miami has gone from less than 20% Hispanic to over 70% Hispanic, with 70% of households speaking only Spanish at home. But the entire Miami metropolitan area, which is over ten times the population of the city itself, is less than 50% Hispanic, and the majority of households speak English. If the American-born players can’t speak Spanish, it isn’t exactly going to not endear themselves to the population. Most Miamians probably couldn’t care less what language the players speak, as long as they play good, winning baseball.
Jeter’s attitude is an unfortunate effect of the results of heavy immigration. Despite the fact that we live in the United States, where English is the lingua franca, the high concentration of Spanish-speaking immigrants in some areas has business owners deciding to acquiesce to the immigrants and learn their language, rather than expecting the immigrants to learn English as previous generations had done.
That kind of capitulation is just what those who fear the cultural changes of immigration are most worried about. And when it comes from those in positions of power who then try to force those who work for them to give in too, it rubs many people the wrong way. There may be advantages to learning Spanish, such as being able to communicate with teammates who are just starting to learn English, or in gaining a leg up in scouting potential recruits in South America. But the decision to learn Spanish has to be up to those who want to do it, and not forced on all employees unilaterally.