Derek Jeter intends to make relationships two-way streets on his baseball team.
The Miami Marlins co-owner and CEO explained Tuesday to ESPN’s Jerry Krasnick why he requires the team’s non-Spanish-speaking players and coaches to learn the language. Weekly Spanish classes are an integral part of the Marlins’ personal-development program, which Jeter hopes will foster tighter bonds within the clubhouse and help the team better enmesh itself into the surrounding community. Because the Marlins instruct Latin American-born players to take English classes, Jeter believes mandating Spanish lessons for English speakers is only fair.
“I’ve been to the Dominican and Venezuela,” Jeter told Krasnick. “I went to Cuba with Major League Baseball in 2016. So I’ve been to those countries and tried to learn as much as I could about their cultures. 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.”
The University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports reported in 2017 that 31.9 percent of MLB players are Latino, with most of them speaking Spanish as their first language, according to The Daily News.
The Marlins are aiming to become MLB’s first fully bilingual team. Perhaps doing so will make them more popular in Southern Florida and give them a leg up on the competition.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images