Baseball was once considered America’s favorite pastime, but times have changed and compared to other sports leagues, some consider baseball outdated. A typical baseball game has many perks such as ballpark food, “kiss cams” and lively music to keep people entertained. Even though baseball might be taking a bit of a backseat in the sports world, it should not become obsolete. Baseball has a rich history in American culture and as many can remember, it opened up the world to new cultures and ideas during the civil rights movement and even immigrants in general. Jackie Robinson, Lou Polli and numerous other diverse players have changed the dynamic of society just because in the 60s, baseball was considered the nation’s pastime and if baseball can be inclusive, so should we.
With the title of America’s pastime no longer applicable, it’s time to look into reasons why. The demographics of viewers and fans of baseball has not changed much over the past few decades. A demographic study on the 2013 season of Major League Baseball showed that fans are 70 percent male, 83 percent white and 50 percent ages 55 and up. That doesn’t scream the same level of diversity as baseball might have represented during the 70s. Most millennials and young adults today enjoy the diversity and inclusiveness of other sports, such as basketball, soccer or football, that baseball tends to lack today. Time magazine considered baseball to be the “whitest and least diverse sport.” This might be true, but don’t forget, we might not be where we are today in terms of acceptance of other cultures in our daily life if baseball hadn’t taken the wheel.
Baseball is considered a “thinking man’s game,” involving a lot of strategy, rules and carefully considered decisions which tend to take some time. In today’s age of fast-paced video games and action sequences, most young people don’t exactly find a profound interest in things that require hours of concentration with only short bursts of self-gratification. The most common complaint is the length of an average game. The games usually last about three hours and can have many lulls in between turnovers, pitching changes and preparation of the players. This makes the game extremely tedious. Most popular American sports, like football or basketball, center around high-intensity and constant action with little to no break periods. Baseball doesn’t have that, which might be why people are starting to lose interest.
Baseball players also don’t have the same celebrity status as other professional athletes. Many baseball players have a more hometown, approachable quality than other athletes and tend not to live scandalous or lavish lifestyles. Most players don’t have recognizable qualities unless they are involved in the community and push themselves to a celebrity status like Derek Jeter has.
In general, baseball relies on the interest of children in the sport to bring up the next generation, but there are less and less little league teams and a general interest of children in the sport. ESPN’s Sports Poll found 18 percent of 12-17-year-old Americans describe themselves as baseball fans. Over the past 12 years, the number of kids participating in Little League Baseball has dropped, causing many towns to create multi-city teams. Most baseball clubs have tried to keep the interest of kids by lowering or even making memberships to the fan rewards programs free like the Red Sox program, “Kids Nation,” which took away their membership fee of $30 for fans 14 and younger. This way they can get special perks such as free tickets, memorabilia and other fan favorites to keep the interest in the sport and keep them coming back. This may help the current problem but in the long run, it might make the situation worse.
Ballparks are hiking up the prices on tickets for batting practices and general in-season and postseason games. Decent seat prices have risen in recent years, making it difficult to enjoy the game. You might not have the budget to fit a baseball game into your roster of activities, especially if you weren’t that interested in the game to begin with.
Baseball is a sport that is rooted in history and family entertainment. But now, it’s become the sport of America’s past and that doesn’t interest younger generations. The MLB, and baseball in general, have a long way before they can end up back on top. Maybe taking some small steps like waiving fees, lowering ticket prices and shortening the duration of the game might peak the interest of the public again.