Few things are more American than baseball. Almost everyone has been to a ballpark and taken in the sights, sounds, and smells from a baseball game.
In fact, we love baseball and its history so much that we call it “America’s pastime.” That’s a high honor, especially since the NFL and NBA continue to mesmerize so many fans.
However, has baseball stopped captivating the American public as much as it once did? Sadly, it’s no secret that the game our parents grew up with is dwindling in popularity right before our eyes.
According to baseballreference.com, the total attendance for an MLB season hit its peak in 2007 with over 79.5 million fans. However, since that year, the MLB has seen a decline over almost every year in attendance, and last season it was at only 68.5 million fans (a decrease of almost 14% from 2007.)
Why is baseball – a sport that has been so engrained in our nation’s history – losing so many fans? What is causing a national sport to be experiencing such drastic losses in attendance?
Some will point to forms of media. Televisions, cell phones, and other streaming devices are allowing fans to watch at home and on the go. Although they pull fans out of seats at the ballpark, streaming devices aren’t killing baseball.
In fact, the biggest thing causing baseball to lose popularity is baseball itself.
Yes, baseball is imploding and destroying itself.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why:
The games are too long.
The MLB has tried speeding things up, but there is too much dead time,” in which no action occurs.
The game isn’t flashy enough.
We all love a home run, but anything else is just okay. Basketball and football both provide more action. I’d rather watch a 25-yard catch than a base hit.
There are scandals galore!
I understand every sport struggles with this issue, but the “Steroid Era” divides fans about legends. Also, how about the Astros cheating? We all hated Tom Brady during “Deflategate,” but did he ever do anything this bad?
Internal arguments divide the league.
Rob Manfred has players, owners, and officials arguing with each other. Even fans are incredibly angry with Manfred. This doesn’t bode well for the sport.
The MLB has botched the handling of COVID-19.
The MLB had to wait so long to get to playing, and they may have to stop again. What will happen to the future of the MLB if they have to cancel the season completely?
There are too many games.
While this isn’t a new thing, too many games spread out fans. We can’t watch every game, so we will be casual fans for most games, and we will be dedicated fans for a few.
The MLB is struggling, and this season is not helping their case. Can the MLB figure out how to keep their fan base satisfied? Will “America’s pastime” simply just become something from America’s past? I’m not sure.