Baseball and Society: Michael Lipsky’s Theories
Michael Lipsky is one of the outstanding people who have written extensively on street level bureaucracy and emphasized the need for protests when they are called for. He argues that policy implementation in any nation follows certain procedures and involves particular persons. Government employees, just like police officers, teachers, and doctors, help in coming up with policies that govern society. They can inform the government on issues affecting the citizens as they can relate to them as well. They act as mediators between the administration and the people. However, he encourages protests if the citizens feel that their issues are not well addressed. He argues that protests are a better way to communicate, as they make the relevant authorities act quickly. Lipsky’s ideas are reflected in a story from the history of baseball. It describes the strike of players who requested for a better pay and better working conditions. This act proves Lipsky’s ideas true, because after the strike the player’s salary was increased and the working terms were improved. This essay discusses Lipsky’s concepts of street level bureaucracy, the idea of limited resources, goals, and performance measures and how they relate to the history of baseball.
Lipsky’s theory of street level bureaucracy explains that protests are necessary when the system fails to address the issues and affect citizens as required. Protests make the proper authorities act. The concept of limited resources argues that at some point any organization lacks facilities to enable them to perform efficiently. Therefore, the supply of services becomes lesser than the demand, but leaders act to ensure that the situation is rectified. The idea of concepts and performance measures states that any organization must have specific goals as well as necessary supervision for it to succeed.
Lipsky’s theory of street level bureaucracy explains that protest is essential when people need their rights to be fulfilled, in baseball, it is proved true through the strike conducted by players. The street bureaucracy Theory states that there are workers in any country that interact with the government directly to come up with policies. Additionally, these workers interact with the citizens so that they can know their problems and come up with better plans. Thus, they relate well to the general public in their field of work and can quickly identify the needs of these people. These people include teachers, police officers, and other senior government workers. However, there are instances of protests when people feel that their needs are not addressed as required. As such, the powerless groups may involve third parties in protesting for their rights. “The established civic organizations most likely to be concerned with the needs of the powerless groups are those devoted to public welfare” (Lipsky). The issue of protests is also seen in the history of Baseball whereby the players went on a strike. The players demanded an increase in their pay as well as the amendment of the laws that governed them. For instance, they wanted the game managers to allow them to get into a five-year contract while playing for one team. After five years, a player would be allowed to play for another team. However, the leaders were reluctant to fulfill their wishes. The managers only wanted to retain the good players and were unwilling to increase their salary. As such, the players went on a strike. “A series of work stoppages both strikes and stoppages damaged the game’s relationship with its fans” (Rader 188). These managers had to make the necessary changes to meet the demands of the players. After the issues of salary and freedom were sorted, the players called off the strike and were back in the field.
Lipsky’s idea of limited resources explains that there are problems of supply and demand, but when the supply becomes high the demand increases to consume them, which manifests in the history of baseball in the inadequate resources that they had. Lipsky asserts that most leaders accept that institutions are not well catered for regarding resources. Most state organizations experience constraints, particularly regarding finances. As such, they fail to execute their duties as required. Often those working in these organizations are underpaid. Additionally, the organizations with unlimited resources have inadequate facilities and cannot serve their clients as required. The unequal distribution of resources is caused by poor representation in their leadership. Inequitable distribution of these resources can also be problematic. Some regions may be favored compared to others as they may have powerful groups representing them and addressing their issues appropriately. On the other hand, there are those that are composed of powerless groups and, therefore, their problems are not handled adequately. However, through protests relevant authorities increase the supply of particular commodities to people. When the supply becomes higher, people raise the demand to consume the extra services. “If additional services are made available, demand will increase to consume them. If more resources are made available, pressures for additional services utilizing these resources will be forthcoming” (Lipsky 33). This concept is evident in baseball, because initially the players did not have any resources that would help them move ahead. At the time, the game was stagnant and there were no significant developments. However, stakeholders in this game provided more resources to the players, such as the provision of money to support participating teams. Furthermore, some organizations and individuals became sponsors of matches. The availability of these resources stimulated the players to be more active than ever. Therefore, they played more games than before. They would even play up to fifty games per season (Rader 20). Besides, the provision of money was also the prerequisite for the emergence of professional matches. “Such clubs became in effect merely booster organizations for the game. Play became far more serious…players began to specialize according to positions” (Rader 21). The author says that baseball only became a professional game when sponsors came in to support the game financially. The best players were selected and were thoroughly trained in their particular positions. Therefore, the improved supply of the financial assistance increased the number of services to consume and sufficiently utilized these resources.Lipsky’s concept of goals and performance measures explains that for any institution to advance supervision and control are essential. This is true is the history of baseball because the game’s managers supervised the teams to ensure that they performed well. Lipsky asserts that performance measures must be put in place so that every member can work towards achieving communal goals. These rules play a vital role in informing people whether they are moving in the right direction. In brief, they give a system of feedback to the leaders. Additionally, the goals enhance cohesiveness and teamwork. It means that failure to have clearly defined goals leads to inaccurate feedback as well as individualism. “The clearer the goals and better developed the performance measures, the more finely guidance can be” (Lipsky 40). Sometimes, it becomes difficult for people to set goals that are likely to favor both the managerial team and the members. This situation occurs when the members’ demands exceed what the leaders can possibly achieve. For instance, members may require a sharp increase in salary. However, leaders may find these goals unrealistic, because they may lead to the collapse of the organization if they are to be achieved. Additionally, they may not have enough resources and facilities to enable them to fulfill these demands. All in all, they must reach a consensus to move forward. In baseball history, the issue of goals and performance arose during the start of the professional period for the game. There were several teams, and each of them had to train well in order to win. To do that, they had to eliminate the inexperienced players as one of their goals. Secondly, each of the players had to be trained in their specific positions so that they could be experts in that. “A first base player only, for instance, should be known as a first player only and the same as regards other bases, the pitcher, catcher and the short field” (Rader 21). The supervisors and the trainers took control of everything and monitored the players carefully. These were the primary measures, which aimed at sustaining the best teams. However, in the later stages of baseball history, they also had to come up with more action, such as increasing the player’s salary. They were also forced to acquire contracts, which stipulated that they would play for a particular team for five years. All these measures enhanced the development of the game the effects of which exist to date.
Some people may argue that Lipsky’s theory of street level bureaucracy does not relate to the history of baseball, because protests do not guarantee that the needs of people will be fulfilled. However, as discussed, the street level bureaucracy that advocates for protests is crucial when people want to be listened to. It relates to the period in the history of baseball when the players went on a strike, so that they would play under favorable conditions. During the protest, the managers decided to increase their pay and improved the measures under which they operated. Therefore, street level bureaucracy and protests exists in every community. They lead to changes in most cases.
In conclusion, Lipsky’s concepts and ideas relate to the history of baseball. The street level bureaucracy applies to the instance of players protesting against being underpaid. They also wanted to have an opportunity to play for other teams, but the managers declined. The protest played a significant role in helping them have their desires fulfilled. The idea of supply and demand relates to baseball because, at one point, the fraternity lacked the necessary resources to develop the game. However, the emergence of sponsors who offered financial support led to significant growth, and the fraternity came up with more activities to consume the available services. Besides, the goals and performance concept that emphasizes the need to have supervision and proper measures applies in baseball as these measures has led to tremendous growth of the game. Besides, it enhanced teamwork among the members, leading to success.