Major League Baseball is renaming its league-wide medical database from the commonly known “Disabled List” to the “Injured List”.
“The principal concern is that using the term ‘Disabled’ for players who are injured supports the misconception that people with disabilities are injured and therefore are not able to participate or compete in sports,” explained Jeff Pfeifer, Major League Baseball’s Senior Director of League Economics and Operations, informing the league’s teams in a December memo that was obtained by ESPN.
The term Disabled List is used to free up a roster spot when a player is injured for an extended period of time. By placing them on the list, the player would not be counted on the roster, enabling them to suit up another player. The Disabled List dates back to the 1915 National League season, and has become a well-known baseball reference.
Disability rights advocates score this move as a home run.
“Stigma is a huge thing in society. Disabled people are a part of society [who] are routinely discriminated against in housing and employment, and sports has a huge impact on how these people are treated,” added Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for disability rights.
“And Major League Baseball might say ‘This is an inaccurate term and we can change it’ but fans of baseball will see this and say ‘Disabled people came together and deserve civil rights.'”
The MLB takes a curtain call with disabled individuals and groups.
“I think it’s a huge step for the disabled community, and it looks at the fact that being disabled is part of the human condition, and disabled people deserve to have their human rights recognized like any other minority group. And baseball got it,” Ruderman added.
The Ruderman Foundation sponsors a youth group, Link120, that encourages businesses and civic groups to protect the rights of disabled people. Link120 representatives wrote to Billy Bean, MLB’s Vice President and Special Assistant to the Commissioner, pointing out the difference between an injured individual and a healthy disabled person.
Billy Bean responded to Link120 within just a few weeks and the rest is history, and so is the terminology that survived decades of baseball. The “Disabled List” has officially been retired.