Major League Baseball will replace the “disabled list” with the “injured list” for the 2019 season amid concerns that the term “disabled” was insensitive.
The “disabled list” has been part of professional baseball since the mid-1960s (though there are records of some teams using a “disabled list” as far back as the early 20th century), and it’s become second nature to refer to an injured or exhausted player as “on the DL,” but MLB has been reportedly playing around with the idea of renaming the injured roster in order to better reflect the condition of players who skip games for medical or physical reasons, according to ESPN.
“The league will make the change out of concern that the term ‘disabled’ for injured players falsely conflates disabilities with injuries and an inability to participate in sports,” the sports network reported. The change was made at the request of disability advocacy organizations which have been pressing the league to make the change for nearly a decade.
“In recent years, the commissioner has received several inquiries regarding the name of the ‘Disabled List,'” MLB’s “senior director of league economics and operations” wrote in a letter to MLB teams and team owners in late December.
“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. As a result, Major League Baseball has agreed to change the name ‘Disabled List’ to be the ‘Injured List’ at both the major and minor league levels. All standards and requirements for placement, reinstatement, etc., shall remain unchanged. This change, which is only a rebranding of the name itself, is effective immediately,” the MLB statement said.
“People with disabilities do not consider themselves injured,”Jay Ruderman, president of the disability advocacy organization, The Ruderman Family Foundation, told The New York Times. “When it’s used incorrectly, when someone is injured, not disabled, that’s offensive.”
He went on to add that players with a “torn ACL,” for example, are more adequately described as “injured” and not “disabled,” hence the push. Ultimately, disability advocacy organizations hope that the change will resonate with baseball fans and lead to a more widespread understanding of the difference between temporary injury and permanent disability.
There will be no immediate changes made to how the “injured list” is constructed, and managers will continue to opt for placing players on either a “short term” injury list, giving them a 10 day rest period, or a “longer term” injury list, giving them up to two months to recover.
Major Leage Baseball is reportedly considering a number of other changes to the rules and regulations governing the game, as pitchers and catchers begin to report for spring training this week.
In a far more controversial move than changing the name of the “disabled list,” the MLB announced that it is considering forcing National League teams to add a “designated hitter” to their rosters for the 2020 season.