Does appearance matter in playing Baseball?

PNY’s flash drive ad shows a photo of four children wearing baseball uniforms with globes and bats. The ad denotatively presents three boys and one girl as baseball players; three of them are White, and one of them is Black. The boy in the center is lifting the ball, gathering attentions from the other three.

The ad connotatively represents and challenges two stereotypes that are issued in the world of baseball. Firstly, one can notice that there is a racial stereotype involved in this ad. The Black boy standing at the very left of the photo seems to be very short compared to the other three. He is a bit distanced from the White boy next to him, and he seems to be isolated from others. The three White children are taller than him, and they seem to be the center of interest in this ad. Such differences in these children’s appearances indicate the discourse of people imagining White baseball players instead of Black players taking the mound at the field. The children’s height differences imply the White’s dominance and popularity in the world of baseball. People unconsciously come up with a White man wearing a baseball uniform and holding a globe or a bat although race does not matter in playing sports.

On the other hand, the ad challenges the gender stereotype by setting a girl wearing baseball uniform and placing her between boys. This is a challenging setting because in reality, it is rare to see girls playing baseball. Many people tend to think that baseball is a sport for men and not women. Instead, they think that softball is a sport for women. Whenever I watch baseball games, I can hardly see women playing as team members at the field. Although there is no restriction for women to play baseball, people arbitrarily think that it is unmatching for the opposite gender to become one of the team members. The ad depicts the opposite situation; there is a baseball girl mingling with couple of boys. This kind of scene is unrealistic because of the discourse we have in the society and thus, one can interpret this ad as a challenging image that resists and breaks the reality of people perceiving baseball as men’s sport.

Aside from these two different aspects, the caption “Plug in the power of PNY…and let our memory capture your memories” diffuses the depiction or representation of stereotypes discussed above. This caption intends the consumers to buy PNY’s flash drives to save their memories as photos. It is probably difficult for people to recognize the stereotypes discussed above if they simply focus on reading this caption because it does not imply any racial and gender issues. The photo of these four children would be viewed as one of the memorable moments of childhood that is valuable enough for saving in a flash drive. This caption widely changes the meaning of this ad and eliminates the stereotypical definitions that are concealed behind the scene.

The article “Black Skiing, Everyday Racism, and the Racial Spaitality of Whiteness” by Anthony Kwame Harrison discusses how White skiers are dominating the world of skiing and how Black skiers are excluded from participations. Harrison quotes that “The virtual absence of racial diversity within skiing’s perceived and/or conceived spaces of practice leave little opportunity for challenges to its predominant “white spatial imaginary” as a controlled environment of capital accumulation and individual escape” (320). This quote means that the lack of racial diversity in the world of skiing unables the predominant group to challenge the controlled environment in which Whites dominating the games. Such concept can be applied to PNY’s ad. The high percentage of White professional baseball players make Black players difficult to destroy the idealism, which is the stereotypical image of a White player taking the mound and swinging the bat or throwing the ball. Although there are no restrictions assigned to people of color, people still seem to perceive White men as ideal baseball players.

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One Response to Does appearance matter in playing Baseball?

  1. Sarah McCullough says:

    I like how you deconstruct the image in terms of race and gender, while also attending to the textual message of the ad. To bring the two together, you might consider analyzing the focal point of the ad a bit further. The boy throwing the ball is the focal point, as you mention. This implies that he is also the focus of the memory being preserved in the act of taking a picture. The black and female players remain relegated to the sides; they are part of the picture, but not the reason the photo was taken. The white male remains central.

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