Immigrants in Sports



Immigrants, Athletes, and Inclusion

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In October 2021, Dr. James Witte, Dr. Marissa Kiss, and Dr. Michele Waslin presented the IIR's work on immigrants, sports, and inclusion at the online Public Sociology Conference. You can access the link here and watch the presentation.


Immigrants' Pivotal Role in TeamUSA's Olympic Success

IIR Program Coordinator Michele Waslin published an op ed in The Hill describing how the United States’s resources, training facilities, coaching and athletic excellence attract top athletes from around the world, and our generous immigration system is a big part of our Olympic success story.


Foreign-Born Olympians

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At least 33 of the TeamUSA Olympians were not born here, but have made the United States their home and proudly represent this country. Thirteen hail from Europe, followed by seven from Asia, six from Africa, five from the Americas, and two from Australia. These foreign-born athletes comprise approximately five percent of the US delegation and represent the best of US athletics from track and field to equestrian, fencing, table tennis, volleyball, water polo, and 15 additional sports. These international athletes take a variety of paths to arrive in the United States, and they contribute to the overall success of TeamUSA.

See all of our foreign-born Olympians here.

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Why are there so few Black American players in MLB 74 years after Jackie Robinson took the field?

IIR alum Marissa Kiss, PhD and former Mason professor Earl Smith published an op ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer featuring their research into Major League Baseball, immigration, and race.

"The rise of the academy system in the Caribbean and South America during the 1980s, and a shift in the pipeline to the major leagues for native-born players in the 1990s, altered the demographic makeup of MLB players. As a result, a new MLB emerged. This MLB featured fewer American-born Black players. It relied on the recruitment, extraction, and exploitation of foreign-born Latino players and American-born parents’ wealth to cultivate their sons’ talent through showcase events, private coaches, or sports academies like IMG Academy.

Thus, we can no longer say that baseball is part of the American Dream. Major League Baseball is a story of the haves and the have-nots; it is a story of the colony and the country club."

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Can Small-Town America Survive Pandemic's Hit to Minor League Baseball?

This article describes how international baseball players transform small towns. Former IIR Graduate Research Assistant Marissa Kiss is quoted.

Photo Credit: Canva

America's International Pastime

IIR Director Dr. James Witte and former IIR Graduate Research Assistant and Mason Grad Student Marissa Kiss discussed how baseball has become an international sport on the With Good Reason podcast.

Photo Credit: Canva

The Streak(s) Continue: Immigrant Players Bring Baseball Victories 

With its 4-3 victory the American League continues its recent dominance of the All Star Game, but despite the greater number of foreign born players on the National League roster, it was actually the American League team that played the greatest number of immigrant All-Stars, nine to the National League’s eight.


Predicting the Outcome of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game: Immigrant Ball Players Are a Key Factor

With this year’s game coming July 9, die-hard fans, inquiring minds and hopeful gamblers want to know who will win: the National League or the American League? Our answer? The team that plays the greatest percentage of foreign-born players.


Photo Credit: Canva

Baseball: The (Inter) National Pastime

This report looks at foreign-born players in Major League Baseball and highlights two examples—the 2017 All Star Game and the Division leading, Washington Nationals—to illustrate how changes in professional sports mirror and foreshadow the broader impact of demographic change and increasing globalization.

 Hot in Cleveland

Hot in Cleveland: What Kept Cleveland's Winning Streak Cooking? U.S. Born Pitchers and Foreign-Born Hitters

Overall, 90 percent of Cleveland Indians' pitchers are born in the United States, and 90 percent are white. However, this number changes when you look at the starting pitchers; two-thirds of the starting pitchers for the Cleveland Indians are born in the United States and one-third are foreign-born.